A forestry crime suspect committed suicide by hanging himself in the detention room of the Pursat provincial Department of Environment on February 8, officials said.

Veal Veng district police chief Theang Leng confirmed to The Post that Chan Vit – a 22-year-old resident of Pramouy village and commune in the district – was arrested by environment department officials in cooperation with the National Military Police and the Wildlife Alliance on February 6 while clearing forest land in the O’Som area.

“According to initial reports we received from the police, the suspect hanged himself in a detention room using a bathing suit. However, I have not yet received a detailed report on this case,” he said.

Provincial environment department director Kong Puthyra told The Post that following his arrest and questioning, the suspect was referred to court. But as it was late, a representative of the prosecutor’s office ordered him sent back to the environment department in Pursat town’s Phteah Prey commune to await further questioning.

“Upon being returned from court, officers placed him in a cell and provided him with a meal. The following morning, officers bought rice and water to the suspect for breakfast. Upon opening the detention room, they discovered that he had taken advantage of their lack of vigilance and hanged himself,” he said.

Puthyra added that he had immediately notified the prosecutor and provincial police to inspect the scene.

Deputy provincial police chief Mo Lida, who oversaw forensic investigations, told The Post: “There was a half eaten packet of rice in the man’s cell. The bathroom window was about 2.5m above the ground and the suspect had used its height to hang himself.

“Apart from marks on the throat of the body – caused by strangulation – there were no signs of injury. There were no signs, and therefore no suspicions, of violence or murder.”

He said that following the autopsy, the body was handed over to environment department officials who would return it to Vit’s family.

According to a report seen by The Post, during a patrol on the evening of February 6, a group of eight suspects were spotted clearing trees. Seven of them fled, leaving Vit at the scene. Police arrested him in possession of a chainsaw and a machete.