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Foreigner ‘hid dead body’

A Spanish man who kept the rotting corpse of a British acquaintance in his house for more than three weeks had a murder charge against him dropped yesterday.

Ricardo Blundell Perez, 40, was charged with intentional murder after police found the body of John Peter Connell, 43, in his Daun Penh district apartment on August 11 last year.

During his trial yesterday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Perez denied he had murdered Connell, instead saying he “died from his own disease”.

He said he had known Connell for two days before he died on July 17 last year. The pair had been drinking that day, but at around 3pm, Perez and another Spaniard went out and left Connell alone, he told the court.

“When I returned home about 4pm, I saw John Peter Connell was sitting and sleeping on a chair.

“After showering, I called to him but he did not reply to me or wake up … when I went to wake him up, I saw that he was dead. I was in serious shock.

“I then packaged his body with plastic, covered him with blankets and put [him on] a tarpaulin to keep his body inside my room.”

Perez said he did not report the death to police because he feared being arrested. He said he was staying illegally in Cambodia. Police raided the house weeks later after Perez’s landlord detected the smell of Connell’s decomposing body.

Loeuk Um, who conducts autopsies for the Phnom Penh police, said that Connell died from a drug overdose.

Um Sopheak, a deputy prosecutor, said that as a result of that information and Perez’s testimony, he changed the charge to “hiding a body”.

A conviction on the new charge carries a jail term of between six months and two years.

A verdict is due to be handed down on December 17.

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