SIHANOUKVILLE (Khmer Times) – A suspect has been identified in the gruesome murder of a Russian male found with his throat slashed in a canal near Otres Beach on Sunday afternoon, police sources said.
Denis Goncharov – a 31-year-old who lived in the area with his Chinese wife – was discovered on Sunday floating in the shallow water of a secluded canal near Otres Beach, one of the Sihanoukville’s most popular and idyllic beaches.
Police are seeking an unnamed Russian man, believed to be a close friend of the victim, in connection with the murder, sources say.
Police were called to the scene following the discovery of the body. Specialist plain-clothed police cordoned off the area while forensic investigators studied it for clues.
Police quickly determined it was a murder and said Mr. Goncharov had likely been killed nearby before his body was dumped in the canal. Glass, thought to be from a shattered motorcycle mirror used to transport the victim was found at the scene.
No effort had been made to submerge the corpse, which had probably been floating in the water for a few hours before it was found.
Officers investigated the scene for about six hours, before removing the body, local residents said.
The murder weapon, which has not been found, was likely a knife due to the precision of the stab wounds and the depth of the slash on the victim’s throat, police said.
Mr. Goncharov bled to death, police said.
He was the victim of a “frenzied knife attack” Saturday night, which ended with an execution-style throat slitting.
The murder is not thought to be a robbery gone wrong or accidental killing. Only one suspect is being sought by police.
Initial police investigations were limited to areas around Otres Beach, with many local residents being questioned, sources say.
Police have since expanded their investigation and are questioning expat business owners as far from the scene as Serendipity Beach Road.
Some investigating officers have told expatriates they believe the killing is linked to drugs or local organized crime, people questioned by police said.
Safety at Otres
Recently, Khmer Times reported that many business-owners and residents on Otres Beach have been criticizing police for their failure to install an outpost at the increasingly popular destination.
Some business -owners say they have been asking for a police presence for almost five years.
Although violent crime against foreigners is rare in Sihanoukville, theft and other petty crimes have become an increasing worry for residents of Otres beach, who feel cut off from the city and its law enforcement.
Police Chief Under Scrutiny
This murder comes at a difficult time for the new chief of police for Preah Sihanouk province, Chuon Narin, who has been in his post for over three months.
His progress has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks.
Most local residents feel strongly that the new top cop has had a positive impact on crime rates – especially organized crime linked to the narcotics trade and Russian gangs. Arrests in this murder case will be expected of General Narin, a highly experienced police officer, if his good reputation is to endure.