Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday continued the trial of Lay Vannak, former Takeo provincial governor, and his brother Lay Narith, former provincial deputy police chief, who are accused of killing the governor’s mistress and covering it up as a suicide.
During yesterday’s hearing, the court questioned two police officers who separately examined the body of Chev Sovathana, who was found hanged at her rental house in Takeo province’s Daun Keo city on January 26 last year.
Colonel Meas Ten, the provincial Scientific and Technical Police Department chief, told the court that he examined the victim’s body three hours after the death had been reported.
“When I arrived at the victim’s rental house, I saw her hanging with curtain wires around her throat inside the room,” he said. “Both her hands were holding the throat.”
Col Ten noted that after noting the victim’s body, interviewing her maid and neighbours and inspecting the room, he ordered his officers to bring the body down.
“After examining the victim, I determined that the victim died by hanging because there were red spots on both eyes and on the body, saliva was flowing from her mouth and there were urine spots on the bed and blanket,” he told the court.
Col Ten added that based on his examination, he concluded that the case was a suicide and not a murder.
Major General Tith Buna, deputy chief of the Scientific and Technical Police Department at the Ministry of Interior who re-examined Ms Sovathana’s body, contradicted Col Ten’s findings. He told the court that he believed that it was a murder and not a suicide.
Maj Gen Buna said his department began re-investigating the victim’s death on February 28 and re-examined the body about 33 days after the death.
He noted that the re-investigation was done on the orders of Interior Minister Sar Kheng after he received a complaint from Ms Sovathana’s parents.
Maj General Buna told the court that he and a team of the department’s experts re-interviewed all relevant witnesses and reviewed the report from the provincial department.
He said that after the re-investigation, the ministry’s penal police arrested Mr Vannak, Mr Narith, the former governor’s driver Men Samay, the victim’s maid Chan Ry and her husband Chim Vuth in April.
“According to the re-examination of the victim’s body, evidence left in the victim’s room and confessions from Mr Samay, Mr Vuth and Ms Ry, police determined that the victim was killed outside before the body was taken back to the house and hanged,” he said.
Maj General Buna told the court that Mr Vannak and Mr Narith jointly killed the victim and ordered Mr Samey, Mr Vuth and his wife to take the body into the house and hang it.
The trial continues July 11.