Suspected sorcerer stoned to death in Cambodia

By Kate Bartlett, Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Brutally bludgeoned by 600-strong mob after deaths of several elderly villagers, bringing the number of alleged sorcerer killings this year to at least 3.

Brutally bludgeoned by 600-strong mob after deaths of several elderly villagers, bringing the number of alleged sorcerer killings this year to at least 3.

PHNOM PENH – A traditional healer suspected of practicing black magic has been brutally bludgeoned to death by a 600-strong mob in rural Cambodia, bringing the number of alleged sorcerer killings this year to at least three.

Pov Savann, 36, was attacked Sunday by a neighbors armed with rocks and clubs after they accused him of causing the deaths of several elderly villagers. The attack lasted over 6 hours, with police far outnumbered by the mob as they tried to intervene.

Local police chief Khut Lo told the Cambodia Daily that Pov Sovann "was killed by the many stones that were thrown at him and by the clubs that the 600 people from different communes had to beat him.”

“The villagers believed that they [the elderly villagers] died because of the sorcerer,” the paper reported Lo as saying Tuesday.

Police said that while charges would be difficult due to the sheer number of assailants, several men who entered the victim’s house had been recognized by police and would likely be prosecuted.

Though a predominantly Buddhist country, rural Cambodia is also steeped in superstition with a common belief in ghosts, spirit possession and black magic.

This year alone has witnessed at least three recorded “sorcerer” killings, with an alleged sorcerer being beheaded in one case.

The killings are often carried out by angry mobs, and prosecution of perpetrators is rare—with police themselves sometimes harboring superstitious beliefs.

Unlike countries where women are accused of witchcraft, alleged black-magic practitioners in Cambodia are usually traditional medicine men who become scapegoats for problems, ranging from pestilence and crop failure to sickness among villagers, that befall their communities.

If not killed for their alleged wrongdoings, suspected sorcerers are often exiled from their homes and forced to move away.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency