Police in Ratanakkiri province’s Taveng district have drawn fire from civil society after ruling that a local ethnic Prov villager – found shot at point blank range through both eyes on Thursday – had committed suicide.
According to rights group Adhoc, villager Nhorng Chot, 35, was looking for rosewood on Thursday with his brother-in-law Mey Khat Khorng – who was about 100 metres away – when Khat Khorng heard Chot shout, “Who? Who?” followed by gunshots.
“After hearing the shots, Mey Khat Khorng ran towards the victim, seeing him with gunshot wounds in both eyes. Lying next to the body was an AK rifle,” Adhoc investigator Chhay Thy said, noting that Chot was found in a part of the jungle where a local community forest abuts an economic land concession.
Khat Khorng ran the 15 kilometres back to the village, reported the death and returned to the scene with authorities, who buried the body in the jungle without investigating – or completely covering his arms and legs – Thy added.
“They did not do any investigation, but concluded that the victim shot himself to death with an AK rifle,” he said. “He did not have the weapon, so how could he have shot himself two times in both eyes?”
The deceased’s cousin, Khe Ngam, said yesterday that Chot had never owned a gun.
However, district police chief Khuon Sorya yesterday stood by police’s decisions, and said he could “guarantee” that Chot had committed suicide, because he owed $10,000 in compensation after injuring someone in an accident.