United States Ambassador Patrick Murphy to the Kingdom yesterday requested that the Interior Ministry seek out and arrest a Cambodian who killed an American woman on Koh Rong island in 2013 and has since gone into hiding.
Mr Murphy raised the issue during a meeting with Interior Minister Sar Kheng at the ministry.
Interior Ministry spokesman Phat Sophanith told reporters after the meeting that the US Ambassador urged Cambodia to continue looking for Yan Yoeun, then 32, who was convicted of the murder in absentia after he fled.
“Ambassador [Patrick Murphy] asked Cambodia to continue cooperating with neighbouring countries to arrest this criminal for punishment,” he said.
“The criminal has fled to another country but I can’t tell you which one,” he said.
In September 2013, the body of US citizen Katherine Grgich, 55, was found in Koh Rong’s forest. Police reported she was the victim of a robbery that became a murder.
Police had named Yoeun as a suspect after he gave a camera stolen from the victim to his wife. They said it is likely that he fled to Thailand.
Mr Sophanith said Mr Kheng informed Mr Murphy that Cambodian authorities would continue to seek out Yoeun.
Brigadier General Kol Phally, Preah Sihanouk deputy provincial police chief, said yesterday the criminal fled after committing crime.
“The criminal had fled to Thailand and if he is now in Cambodia, he must be arrested,” he said. Adding that Sihanoukville police had already alerted Interpol after Yan fled from Cambodia.
Major General, Pork Kolkoma, director of Interpol Bureau at the Interior Ministry, said yesterday the bureau had Yan issued an Interpol red note to arrest him.
“The case is still under investigation. We have informed Interpol member countries this criminal is wanted for arrest,” he said, declining to disclose which country Yan is suspected of hiding in.
Mr Sophanith said that during their meeting, Mr Kheng noted the improved bilateral relations between Cambodia and the United States since Mr Murphy took office.
He said Ambassador Murphy lauded the good relations enjoyed by both countries as noted by Mr Kheng.
Mr Sophanith said Mr Murphy underlined both countries’ good cooperation on issues such as public health and also law enforcement between the National Police and United States’ FBI.
“The National Police and FBI have well cooperated in preventing and arresting some suspects who had committed child sex abuse and sent them back to the US,” Mr Sophanith quoted the ambassador as saying.
Mr Murphy said that the United States remains committed to provide assistance to countries in Asia, including Cambodia, although it is suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also welcomed Cambodia’s drafting of two laws on money laundering and terrorism financing, which was approved by the Council of Ministers on May 15.
In February 2019, the country was put on the Asia Pacific Group’s grey list, which indicated that Cambodia had to take measures to strengthen its strategy and develop legal tools to address terrorism financing and money laundering by May 2020 and have them implemented into law by September 2020.