Military policeman held over murder of journalist in Cambodia

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 September, 2012, 4:39am


A Cambodian military police officer was arrested over the brutal killing of a journalist who exposed illegal logging activities, police said yesterday.

Hang Serei Oudom, a reporter at the local-language Vorakchun Khmer Daily, was found in the boot of his car in northern Ratanakiri province on Tuesday.

In the latest death in a country where environmental activists regularly face threats, Oudom appeared to have suffered axe blows to his head, say police. "We arrested a military police officer named Ean Bunheng on Thursday," Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said, adding that the suspect was understood to have met the victim on Sunday, the night he disappeared.

Police found "a blanket stained with blood" at the suspect's house - which is also a karaoke parlour - and discovered the victim's shoes nearby.

Other people who were seen drinking with the 44-year-old journalist at the karaoke venue that night were also questioned.

Pen Bonnar, of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, said those questioned included the suspect's wife and the son of a provincial military police commander who Oudom had accused of wrongdoing in his reporting.

In his final article on September 6, Oudom alleged that the son, who is also a military policeman, smuggled logs in military-plated vehicles and extorted money from people who were legally transporting wood.

Local activists said fellow journalists had recently expressed fears for Oudom's safety because of his reports.