Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Three held over abuse of two elder women accused of witchcraft

Three held over abuse of two elder women accused of witchcraft

Three held over abuse of two elder women accused of witchcraft

THREE people arrested after they allegedly locked up two elderly women and accused them of witchcraft are facing a court investigation, police said Sunday.

Police in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district say the suspects, including the grandson of one of the victims, detained the elderly women after blaming them for a mysterious illness that afflicted the daughter of one of the suspects.

“We will send the suspects to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for interrogation over the allegations of illegal detention,” said Mak Hong, the police chief in Sen Sok district, who did not specify a court date for the trio.

Police believe the two women, who are 98 and 71 years old, were locked in a room on the upper floor of the house that they shared with one of the suspects.

Toek Thla commune police chief Pen Thol said the women were forcibly confined after one of the suspects sought the advice of a traditional doctor when his daughter fell seriously ill.

The doctor accused the two elderly women of conjuring sorcery that caused the suspect’s daughter to contract the illness, he said.

The suspect “locked the two elderly women in their own house, which made the women angry”, Pen Thol said.

“They didn’t eat anything and, due to their elderly age, it caused them to go senseless.”

It wasn’t until other family members came to Phnom Penh in early February to visit the women that they were freed, Man Sophal, a lawyer representing the victims, said Sunday.

Man Sophal said he approached the police after the son of one of the victims asked him for help on February 5.

“He said they were locked in a room and accused of witchcraft,” Man Sophal said.

The two women have recovered from their ordeal, said Pen Thol, the Toek Thla commune police chief, who estimated that the women had been locked up for “a few days”.

Suspects found guilty of illegal confinement face prison terms of between three and five years if the detention in question lasted for less than one month.

Superstitions rife
For years, officials throughout Cambodia have reported cases in which people accused of black magic and causing illness have been murdered.

Sorcery has also been stated as a motive in at least one killing that rights groups suggested was actually politically motivated.

In 2001, a man affiliated with the Sam Rainsy Party was gunned down while bathing. The man convicted in the killing told authorities he believed the politician was a “sorcerer” who dabbled in black magic. However, rights groups at the time questioned why the court didn’t explore possible political motives for the killing.

MOST VIEWED

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Endangered animals found dead in Pailin

    An endangered gaur was one of “many” wild animals found dead in “dozens” of illegal traps in Pailin province’s Phnom Khieu Wildlife Sanctuary, said Chit Thy, a military officer working with rangers to protect the conservation area, on Wednesday. Thy, an officer in the 507