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Two more sought in Siem Reap school killing

Two more sought in Siem Reap school killing

The investigation into the fatal hostage crisis at Siem Reap International School

is complete and authorities are searching for two more men allegedly involved in

supplying the weapon that killed a 3-year-old Canadian boy.

"We are done examining who fired the bullet that killed the boy, and who was

involved in selling the gun. ... All the researchers have agreed on the evidence,

and now we are busy with administration affairs," said Siem Reap investigating

judge Ang Mealatey.

"So far, we have identified two more suspects in Banteay Meanchey involved in

selling the gun to the hostage takers, and the warrant for their arrest has already

been issued," he said.

The names of the two additional suspects have not been released, and as of July 26

they had not been arrested.

In an apparent bungled attempt to seek revenge against a South Korean businessman,

four men on June 16 took a class of young children hostage. The ensuing standoff

lasted seven hours and ended when police stormed a getaway van they had provided

and arrested the hostage takers.

Warning shots fired into the classroom by Siem Reap deputy military police chief

Prak Chanthoeun initially prompted speculation into who ultimately killed the Canadian

toddler, Maxim Michalik.

However, a teacher in the classroom during the incident witnessed the execution of

the child at the hands of the hostage taker, Mealatey said.

The judge said he had received a letter from the Canadian embassy in Phnom Penh informing

Cambodian authorities that the boy's body had been taken by his parents to the Slovakian

capital of Bratislava.

An examination conducted in Slovakia found the fatal gunshot had been fired from

a range of 20 to 25 centimeters, which supported the witness' statement, said Mealatey.

The autopsy findings could not be independently verified by the Post.

Since provincial police handed over the case to the investigating judge on June 19,

Mealatey said he has been searching for further evidence against the suspects.

Aside from the additional suspects involved in the firearm sale and the results from

the autopsy conducted by Yugoslav authorities, Mealatey said no new evidence has

been found since police submitted the case.

After the standoff, police arrested Chea Sokhom, 23, Khim Chem, 20, Van Tisopheak,

22, and Sin Tha, 22. They have all been identified by police as residents of Samrong

Thom commune in Kien Svay district, Kandal province.

Later that evening, a fifth suspect, Ul Samnang, was arrested. Samnang was accused

of knowing about the plot, though police say he did not participate in the event.

Un Ny was arrested in Poipet on June 18 and accused of selling a K-54 handgun to

Chea Sokhom.

On June 19 police arrested security guard Sam Mao, who allegedly left a school gate

unlocked, which allowed the four hostage takers easy access to the school.

The four involved with the hostage taking have been charged with kidnapping, premeditated

murder and illegal use of a weapon. The other three suspects have been charged with

conspiracy to commit the same three crimes.

No court dates have been set, but the suspects can only legally be held in pretrial

detention until mid-December.

"According to Cambodian law, kidnappers usually face 15 to 20 years, but in

a serious kidnapping involving murder, offenders could be sentenced to life in prison,"

said Bou Bunhang, deputy prosecutor of Siem Reap provincial court.

Donica Pottie, Canadian Ambassador, declined to comment on the grounds that consular

cases are strictly confidential. She did, however, confirm that an external Canadian

investigation is not underway.

"There is no legal mandate for a Canadian investigation, the RCMP [Royal Canadian

Mounted Police] can only conduct such investigations in Canada, not abroad,"

Pottie said.

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