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Police declined to arrest “dangerous” suspect hours before murder, family says

The family of a 13-year-old boy who was murdered in Phnom Penh on Monday hold a ceremony this morning.
The family of a 13-year-old boy who was murdered in Phnom Penh on Monday hold a ceremony this morning. Pha Lina

Police declined to arrest “dangerous” suspect hours before murder, family says

The wife of a suspect charged for the murder of a 13-year old boy – whose drowning in broad daylight was caught on camera by onlookers – said she called police just hours before the Monday murder because her husband was behaving “dangerously”, but that officers declined to take action.

Ny Kunthea, 32, today said she called a police officer at about 1:30pm on Monday to ask officials to take Var Ratha, 33, to a drug rehabilitation centre because she feared he was using drugs.

“He used to take drugs. When he behaved strangely like this, I thought he had a drug problem [again] and called the police to take him to the drug rehabilitation centre. But the policeman replied that they couldn’t come because of a lack of police officials,” she said.

The recipient of her call, an officer who identified himself as Dora but refused to give his full name, confirmed yesterday he had spoken to Kunthea. He said he told her he was not able to help because he did not work on drug issues.

Just two hours after the phone call, Ratha is alleged to have beaten his victim unconscious as the boy was herding cows in Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar commune, and drowned him in a shallow pool in a field as onlookers watched. Under questioning by police, the suspect said the boy had been shooting spitballs at him with a toy gun, and that he was possessed by “spirits” and could not control his rage.

Updates to come.


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