Police from two provinces are jointly investigating the murder of a member of the Environmental Protection and Development Organisation (EPDO) near the border between Pursat’s Bakan district and Battambang’s Ek Phnom district.
Bakan district police chief Neang Vuth told The Post on Monday that at 12pm on Saturday, a group of local fishermen found the body of the victim, Uok San, laying on a green boat floating on the Tonle Sap lake at Prek Rean Ambel.
“His body was covered with a blanket, but naked. It was neatly placed in the middle of the boat. [We ascertained] that he had died four or five days previously."
“Upon examination, we discovered many injuries, including a fractured right forehead, bruises on the neck, right thigh and right knee, and the testicles were damaged as well. We concluded that he had been murdered out of spite,” Vuth said.
Ek Phnom deputy district police chief Lam Lan told The Post that San and his wife Long Reth were active crime researchers at the EPDO.
He said the couple frequently joined authorities to intercept fishing and environmental crimes in the area surrounding the Tonle Sap lake, without fear of the offenders.
“Based on the victim’s injuries, I think he was beaten to death with solid objects by unknown fishing or environmental criminals,” Lan said.
He said the murder took place in Ek Phnom district and the boat subsequently drifted into Bakan district. Therefore, provincial and district police from both provinces were jointly investigating the case in order to find the perpetrators.
Lan said San lived with his wife in Chong Khnies commune’s Village 4 in Siem Reap province, but they were staying temporarily in Kbal Tol village in Ek Phnom district’s Koh Chivaing commune.
The victim’s body had been returned to the family on Saturday, he said.
Reth, told The Post on Monday that on January 6, after San’s team returned from a patrol of the Tonle Sap lake in Koh Chivaing commune, San asked for 5,000 riel to buy petrol and a coke.
He then said he wanted to visit a friend’s house in Bakan district.
“At 10 pm, he had not come back, so I called some of his friends, but they told me he hadn’t been there."
“Then I called his relatives in Siem Reap province and they said they hadn’t seen him either,” Reth said.
She said she began to search for him and asked the police to help, but no-one could find him until Saturday.
Police received information from members of the local Vietnamese fishing community that they had found the victim’s boat about 3km from Kbal Tol village.
“I was shocked, especially when police brought his body home. I checked and found many injuries and his testicles were beaten up badly as well,” Reth said.
She appealed to the authorities to investigate and bring the offenders to justice.
Deputy EPDO general secretary Yuos Samorn on Monday told The Post that San was a worthy member of the organisation’s staff.
He said San never declined to patrol or intervene when crimes were being committed around the Tonle Sap lake. He also had a good relationship with the group and the authorities on patrol.
“His death is a great loss to our organisation,” Samorn said.
The EPDO registered with the Ministry of Interior on July 6, 1998, he said. It is currently cooperating with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to implement a project promoting the food production chain in Pursat province.