BANGKOK – A two-star military general wanted for the brutal murder of his wife and 6-year-old daughter was arrested in Thailand on Saturday and sent back to Phnom Penh, where he was charged with premeditated murder Sunday.
Kim Marintha, a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) major general, was arrested on Saturday while attempting to cross the Thai-Lao border by car, according to police. He was charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Sunday, officials said.
Major General Marintha is accused of murdering his wife, Va Dary, 30, and their 6-year-old daughter, whose decomposed bodies were discovered in Kompong Speu province’s Phnom Sruoch district in March.
“He is accused of premeditated murder, which shall be punished by life in prison,” deputy court prosecutor Keo Socheat said Sunday.
Judge Khy Chhai said the general was sent to pretrial detention at Prey Sar prison.
Prum Sareoun, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s penal police, said Maj. Gen. Marintha fled to Thailand about a month ago, after his son-in-law Chea Sok Samnang was arrested as an accomplice to the murders.
“The Cambodian Interpol Police went to Thailand on September 12 because we knew that he tried to cross the Thai-Lao border,” Mr. Sareoun said, referring to the international police agency.
“Cambodian Interpol and the Thai Interpol arrested the suspect,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Marintha, who owns the GST Express Bus company in Phnom Penh, was added to Interpol’s list of most-wanted persons earlier this month, along with his son Kim Sem Rithy, who remains at large and is wanted for allegedly hiding the bodies and using illegal weapons.
“His son went with his son-in-law to drop off the bodies,” Mr. Sareoun said.
According to a penal police report, Maj. Gen. Marintha ordered his staff at GST to buy “big, black plastic bags” on February 12, three days before he allegedly murdered his wife and daughter. A large cooler was also purchased.
On February 14, Maj. Gen. Marintha took his family to visit his wife’s parents in Kompong Cham province, where an argument broke out between the general and Va Dary over an online relationship she was having with a man in Japan, the report says.
Va Dary’s mother, Mey Lyly, 50, told police that following the altercation, her daughter wanted a divorce, it says.
On February 15, according to the report, Maj. Gen. Marintha invited his wife and daughter to his office at GST’s headquarters at about 3 p.m.—and emerged alone.
Hours later, at about midnight, his son-in-law arrived at the building and assigned a security guard to load a large cooler into a Lexus SUV, the report says, adding that Maj. Gen. Marintha’s room was a mess and had woman’s hair strewn about it.
“The two victims were killed by having their necks broken,” the report says.
On February 16, Maj. Gen. Marintha had security footage altered to remove evidence of the cooler being loaded into the SUV, it adds.
Leaving the municipal court Sunday, Maj. Gen. Marintha refused to comment on the charges against him.
“I refuse to say anything,” he said. “I don’t have much time, so I want to talk to my lawyer.”
Men Somony, Maj. Gen. Marintha’s lawyer, also declined to comment.