Mish Khan on a murder victim’s return from the grave.

In a bizarre homicide case that which highlights the extent of institutionalised police corruption in Cambodia, a murder victim has appeared at the trial of his accused killers to at the Appeal Court to personally ask the judge to withdraw charges.

Kong Sithon, Chuon Sambath and Srun Sothy were convicted of murder in April 2013, seven months after a bloated and unidentifiable corpse was discovered one kilometre from Sothy’s house.

After villagers suggested the body bore a resemblance to local fisherman Mak Chien, the accused were tortured into confessing the murder. However, further investigation by International Bridges to Justice revealed that Chien had been away working as a fisherman in Thailand.

Contacted for comment, the district police chief who handled the case insisted that if the suspects did not kill Chien, they had “probably killed someone else”, despite a local insisting that no one in the village had reported a missing family member.

Mish Khan is New Mandala’s Associate Editor and a third-year Asian studies/law student at the Australian National University. This post is part of her Southeast Asian snapshots series.

Photo: Heng Chivoan/The Phnom Penh Post