Sorn Sithy (Photo from Facebook)

[Cambodia] Journalist beaten to death in Kratie province

A motorcycle-riding journalist was stoned and beaten to death by a group of unidentified male attackers on Monday midnight, 4 February 2019. 

Suos Chamroeun, provincial deputy police chief in charge of criminal cases, said in an interview Monday that Kratie provincial and Snuol district police were investigating the murder of 18-year-old Sorn Sithy, who worked for BTBP TV Online, in Pi Thnou commune. 

In an interview, BTBP TV Online publisher Sem Diya said about 20 people were involved in the attack, quoting a district police officer he had spoken with. Sithy had been working for the online publication for about a year, covering social issues, he said. 

“We are investigating the case and we are questioning the people who have been involved in the case. We have some clues, (but) have yet to know the clear reason behind the murder,” said Chamroeun. His dead body lying on the ground was discovered early Monday morning by villagers, who soon informed the local authorities about it, he added. 

Quoting from a news report, Snuol district police chief Chan Sok Kim said that Sithy and his two friends were riding a motorbike and on their way home after attending a wedding in the district’s Pi Thnou commune. Sithy, riding pillion, fell off the motorbike when the attack happened. Sok Kim added that the journalist’s friends drove off to escape. 

“We are working thoroughly on the case,” said Sok Kim. “(But) it is very difficult to investigate (it) because his friends said they did not know why he was attacked,” he said in an interview. 

“We want the authorities to bring the suspects to justice,” Diya said while expressing concern that the suspects might escape while the investigation was in progress. “We are deeply sorry he’s now gone.” 

Data from the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) show that at least 13 journalists have been killed in the country since 1994. 

On 30 January 2019, a reporter with the Cambodia Media Association for Freedom, Sim Chhivchhean Piseth, was similarly attacked while on a reporting assignment, allegedly by men known to Kong Mangkul, chief of the Beong Pearang community in Chong Khneans commune. The latter was said to have ordered the assault. Piseth has since filed a complaint with the Siem Reap provincial court, accusing Kong Mangkul of “intentional murder.” Piseth was taking photos of suspected illegal fishing activities in the area when the incident happened.

“I need to find justice because they (intended) to kill me. He had ordered his men to beat me up, which they did until I became unconscious,” he said. “I was lucky that the commune police came to my rescue.” 

He said the attempted murder was prompted by his coverage of illegal activities in Kong Mangkul’s jurisdiction. “So far, I have not heard anything from the court yet,” he said. 

A December 2015 report by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) dubbed Cambodia the single most dangerous place in the world for environmental journalists.

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