Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Witchcraft fears fuel acts of cannibalism

Witchcraft fears fuel acts of cannibalism

Witchcraft fears fuel acts of cannibalism

witch.jpg
witch.jpg

On Jan 1 Prom Chheur joined a growing number of men incarcer-ated in Kampong Thom

prison for murder-ing their victims and eating their livers.

Prom Chheur

Chheur was arrested more than three years ago, since the night of Oct 19, 1997 when

he and two accomplices shot dead 57-year-old Prom Phen and his two wives - and then

cut out and ate Phen's liver and gall bladder.

Now serving a 15-year prison sentence, Chheur defends his actions on the basis that

Phen was a practitioner of witchcraft who was responsible for the deaths of Chheur's

sister-in-law and the son of Sath Sok, one of Chheur's accomplices.

In an interview with the Post on February 8 at Kampong Thom prison, Chheur described

the murder and subsequent act of cannibalism as an act of revenge.

"A kru Khmer [traditional healer] said [Phen] made black magic causing my father

to get sick as well as the death of my sister-in-law and Sok's son," he said.

"All villagers believed he was a witch. I wanted vengeance against him."

Chheur declined to say why he and Sath had eaten Phen's liver and gall bladder.

Kampong Thom Prosecutor Huot Hy blamed superstition and the widespread belief in

black magic in the countryside for Phen's murder and numerous other acts of murder/cannibalism

in Kampong Thom in recent years.

"It is very dangerous when someone is called by name by a kru Khmer, accusing

him of performing black magic," Hy said.

According to Kampong Thom's Sandan District Justice Police Chief Mao Boran, as many

as 10 villagers in the area had been murdered and mutilated in recent years as a

result of black magic accusations.

"Villagers are very superstitious ... they actually believe in witchcraft,"

he said.

Boran traced the practice of eating human livers to the civil war period prior to

the Khmer Rouge victory of April 1975, when the eating of human livers was credited

with boosting bravery and strength.

But not all of Kampong Thom prison's convicted cannibals attribute their acts to

defense against black magic.

Hieng Houn, 32, who is also serving time in Kampong Thom prison on charges of killing

a man and eating his liver, said he was motivated by lingering anger resulting from

a quarrel over a card game.

"I planned to kill him for a long time because he owed me money from playing

cards," he said of what led to the night of Sept 23, 2000 when he shot a friend

with seven rounds from an AK-47.

And the liver eating?

"I ate his liver because I was very angry with him," Houn said.

MOST VIEWED

  • 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,

  • 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

  • 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

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty