The Kandal Provincial Court has placed a man in pre-trial detention after he was arrested in connection with the murder of a pagoda chief monk earlier this month.
Lao Try, 51, has been charged with instigation to murder. Police are searching for his alleged accomplice on charge of premeditated murder.
Phok Thearith, the 53-year-old chief monk of Chedei Thmey pagoda in Vihear Luong commune in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district, was found dead in his room on December 19.
Provincial police’s serious crime bureau head Chao Vuthy declined to provide details, citing an ongoing investigation.
“Kandal Provincial Court deputy prosecutor Ek Sun Reaskmey has already charged [Lao Try] and the investigating judge also issued a warrant to detain him.
“Try has been charged with instigation to murder under Article 28 of the Criminal Code. His alleged accomplice is wanted on charge of premeditated murder under Article 200 of the Criminal Code,” he said.
Premeditated murder is a crime punishable by life imprisonment. Article 28 states that the instigator of a felony shall incur the same penalties as the perpetrator.
Ponhea Leu district police chief Duong Teng said on December 28 that Try has two wives.
One of his wives lives in Ponhea Leu district, while the other lives in Kampong Chhnang province’s Kampong Tralach district.
Teng recalled that Thearith was found dead with a rope around his neck in his room on the morning of December 20 at Chedei Thmey pagoda.
According to Teng, Try confessed that in October he called to meet one of his alleged accomplices identified as Sreng Srun, who has fled after the murder, at a restaurant near the entrance to the Vihear Luong commune police station.
At the time, he told Srun that he had had an argument with the chief monk and was looking to hire a hit man. Srun then allegedly offered to murder the chief monk for $7,000.
Later, Srun met Try at the restaurant again and told him he needed three accomplices to kill the chief monk. He demanded $10,000, at which point Try gave him a deposit of $3,000.
On the evening of December 19, Srun called to tell him that he had already killed Thearith by strangling his neck, with the body covered in a blanket, and demanded the remaining sum.
Try gave Srun the remaining $7,000 the next day.
Citing Try’s confession, Teng said Try planned to kill Thearith because he wanted to take the chief monk’s flats and stalls at Morn Arng Market in Phnom Penh, as well as another two plots of land in Kampong Chhnang province.
Before the murder, Try took $11,500 from the chief monk, telling him that he would use it to build a house for him. But Try never built a house for the monk as promised.
During questioning, Try said he decided to kill Thearith after learning that the chief monk planned to leave monkhood at the end of this year and would regain all the property.