Four men were arrested yesterday in Ratanakkiri province’s Kon Mom district on suspicion of brutally attacking a couple they believe to be sorcerers, according to police.
Trapaing Kraham commune police chief Se Sen said the suspects – three brothers, Sat An, Sat Ieng and Sat Pov, and their brother-in-law, Nem Thy – are accused of breaking into their neighbours’ home at around 11pm on Monday and attacking them with machetes.
“Each man had a machete and went to hack their neighbours in an attempt to kill them, but they survived. They were seriously injured and sent to the provincial hospital,” he said.
According to Sen, the suspects have accused the couple, 52-year-old Sok Soa and his wife, 57-year-old Leang Sorn, of being sorcerers.
“No one has died from their sorcery yet, but they have accused both the husband and wife”, he explained.
Pouk Borith, Kon Mom district police chief, said that there was no evidence of the pair practising black magic, while there was evidence of the attack.
The suspects, he added, were scheduled to appear in court today.
Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said he believed that a land dispute between the two families was the real motivation behind the attack.
But, he added, it was not the first time alleged sorcerers had been attacked in the area.
“In 2002, a daughter, father and grandpa were murdered [by local villagers] when they were accused of sorcery,” he said.
An ethnic Jarai man is also hiding out in the jungles of Ratanakkiri, fearing for his life after being accused of using sorcery to kill other villagers.
He fled his Bakeo district home on April 5 and Adhoc is investigating the case.