PREAH Sihanouk provincial police have launched an investigation into the killing of a 47-year-old Australian man in Sihanoukville’s No 3 commune early on Monday morning, Kav Rattana, the provincial police deputy chief, said Tuesday.
Kav Rattana said John Edward Thompson, 47, was ambushed at around 1am by a group of men who beat him savagely with acacia branches and left him to die at the scene. Two of the branches were found 30 metres from Thompson’s body, he added.
Man Sour, chief of the Sihanoukville Police Department, said investigators were treating Thompson’s killing as a murder case until the evidence suggested otherwise.
“We are now burning our hands and legs to hunt for the suspects, and we do not yet consider his death the result of a robbery,” he said, adding that the victim’s 22-year-old girlfriend Van Lina has told police Thompson was only carrying 2,000 riels (US$0.50) at the time of the attack.
“We have some leads about the suspects, who could be related to a group of gangsters who are addicted to drugs … or it could be related to a group of motodop men who helped him broker a bar in No 3 commune,” he said.
Man Sour said Thompson was known to have been living in Sihanoukville for more than a year prior to the attack and had rented an apartment and bar with his girlfriend, which the couple ran before it closed down due to a lack of profits.
He added that police have arrested several muggers and bag snatchers so far this year in Sihanoukville.