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Court pressured to bail murder suspect

Court pressured to bail murder suspect

B ATTAMBANG provincial court has buckled under "heavy pressure" from an army officer to release one of his men accused of murdering two civilians in broad daylight and in front of many witnesses.

Kuon Vy, 27, a soldier in Mong Russey district, was bailed on an order signed by Pil Non, President of Battambang court, on May 17, according to LICADHO reports obtained by the Post.

Vy was arrested on charges of murdering Neth Thong and Mov Ving, supporters of the Funcinpec party in February this year.

The pair were handcuffed and taken into custody without warrant by a group of government soldiers, who executed them at point blank range. Their bodies were found the following morning with gunshot wounds to the heads.

A second suspect held in the case, Mam Rin, was still being held in custody.

Pil Non, who is also the investigating judge in the case, told LICADHO investigators that he ordered the bail "because there was too heavy a pressure from that soldier's [Vy's] leader".

However, the judge said that his investigation had not concluded that Vy was the real killer.

Pil Non pointed out that two other groups were implicated in the execution. One, he said, was led by Chhon K'ath, a militia chief in Mong Kal commune, who had a motive of personal revenge against the victims. The other was a group which had accused Thong and Ving of hiding weapons and giving aid to the Khmer Rouge. He assured LICADHO investigators that Vy would be summoned to the court whenever the hearing was opened.

The LICADHO investigators said that prior to the court order relatives of the victims were threatened by local army officers to give their fingerprints guaranteeing Vy's bail. The LICADHO investigators were also asked to do so. Everyone refused, the investigators said.

The investigators said that Vy's wife Ny had warned that her husband would kill those who sued him once he gets out of jail.

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