Ratanakkiri provincial police in conjunction with the NGO Child Protection Unit (CPU) and Joint Task Force on Wednesday arrested a man for the “vicious” 2009 murder of a nine-year-old boy in Koh Kong province.
The young child was stabbed in the throat and stomach in view of his schoolmates and teacher after the killer had a dispute with the boy’s father.
Ratanakkiri deputy provinical police chief Phen Dina told The Post on Wednesday that the wanted killer, Sok Phan, had fled to Ratanakkiri province after the murder. Phan had avoided arrest for almost nine years after killing the boy in Koh Kong province’s Kiri Sakor district in December 2009.
Following a years-long investigation, police finally apprehended Phan, 49, on Wednesday morning in Ratanakkiri’s O’Yadav district after an arrest warrant was issued by Koh Kong provincial court in 2010.
“After he was detained, he confessed to the murder. Now we have followed legal procedure by returning him to Koh Kong province for further action."
“The court sentenced him in absentia to life imprisonment. He had gone into hiding in many provinces,” he said.
Dina said the murder stemmed from a land dispute with the boy’s family.
“The suspect was furious [with the boy’s parents]. He cut the boy’s stomach and throat, killing him at the crime scene,” he said, adding the suspect changed his name while on the run to escape the police.
Koh Kong deputy provincial police chief Khim Sene said authorities from various provinces had worked closely to locate the suspect. He said police are set to send him to provincial court.
“The dispute that led to the murder stemmed from a minor issue. The suspect harmed the boy because he could not take revenge on his parents. He is a cruel person,” he said.
According to a report of Child Protection Unit (CPU), on 18 December 2009, the body of the boy Yoeun Pov Rathak was found around 1:20pm near his primary school in Koh Sdech commune, Kiri Sakor district , Koh Kong province.
“The boy was savagely murdered, stabbedon his throat and stomach. The victim collapsed at the crime scene, and the suspect escaped. Pupils and teachers at school witnessed the killing,” the report said.
James McCabe, the director of operations at CPU expressed his satisfaction that the perpetrator had finally been brought to justice.
“[The nine-year-old] was just starting his life, and it was cut short in a particulary violent manner. We hope this arrest will bring some closure for [the victim’s] family and friends."
“This investigation has been an outstanding example of leadership, command and cooperation from many different agencies over a three-year period that resulted in this outstanding result and arrest of the suspect.
“All criminals that commit serious offences should be on notice that the Cambodian National Police and CPU are committed to ensuring that anyone who commits a serious offence such as this will be brought to justice to face Cambodian law,” McCabe said.
The CPU said it “wished to praise the CambodianNational Police and Joint Task Force members for their excellent work in locating this violent offender responsible for the vicious murder of a young child”.