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Newspaper editor found dead in suspicious circumstances

(RSF/IFEX) - The body of Pov Sam Ath, editor of the newspaper "Samleng Khmer Krom" ("Voice of the Khmers Kroms"), was found in a suitcase on 26 April 2007 in the Pich Nil valley in Kampong Speu province in the south of the country. The autopsy showed that his killer used the 29-year-old journalist's bicycle brake cables to strangle him.

Reporters Without Borders called on the government, and particularly Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng, to commit the necessary resources to an exhaustive investigation into the killing. "We believe it is important not to overlook the possibility that he was killed because of his work," the worldwide press freedom organisation added.

Provincial police commissioner Kéo Pisei said the journalist's body had been dumped in the valley three to four days before it was discovered. No clues have yet been found that could help identify any suspects. Police were apparently not giving priority to any particular lead. The body was returned to the family on the same evening and burial was expected to take place very shortly.

Pov Sam Ath was the founder and editor of "Samleng Khmer Krom", for which he obtained a publication licence from the information ministry in 2000. He had to renew it in January 2007, because the newspaper only appeared irregularly. Many of its articles focused on local news.

The information minister declined to comment on the case, but said that the ministry would be sending a wreath to the funeral in tribute to Pov Sam Ath.

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