by Bob Couttie and Patrick H. Moore

On April 28, 2013, All Things Crime Blog posted , “Murder in a Small Town”, by reporter Bob Couttie in which the ex-pat journalist describes the murder investigation of Ophélie Begni, “a 25 year old French holidaymaker” who was brutally murdered on February 9, 2013 in Kampot, Cambodia.  After turning up missing after leaving a party on her bicycle, Ms. Begni’s naked body was fished out of the estaurine Kampong Bay River brutally battered and very dead. Mr. Couttie wrote:

riverThe next day her naked body, half of her face battered and hacked beyond recognition, her arms showing signs of defensive wounds caused by a machete, was found in the river.

A Belgian national, Oliver Van Den Bogaert, has been arrested “for the rape and murder of Ms Begni in a case that has shaken the foreign community in a famously tranquil part of the country.”  Van Den Bogaert “had lived in the town for three years and until recently owned a riverside bar called Olly’s Place.”

During the past few days, Mr. Couttie  has been contacted by Mr. Van Den Bogaert’s family. Based on an email exchange, Mr Couttie verified that the investigation appears to be largely in the hands of the French investigators who via the rogatory process have been asked to play a substantial role in the process. Van Den Bogaert’s family have expressed their hopes that things will be cleared up as soon as possible.

frenchIn essence, the French Government in investigating the case in tandem with the Cambodian judiciary. As opposed to the English speaking countries, both France and Cambodia conduct criminal investigations by utilizing an investigative magistrate. Mr. Couttie writes:

Cambodia’s system is somewhat similar to the French and uses an investigating magistrate. The latter is hearing the evidence and the defence and the prosecution and will decide whether to dismiss charges or go to a full trial hearing.

In order for the French to get involved, as suggested in an email from Van Den Bogaert’s brother, a rogatory investigation is required:

Letters rogatory are the customary method of obtaining judicial assistance from abroad in the absence of a treaty or executive agreement. Letters rogatory are requests from courts in one country to the judiciary of a foreign country requesting the performance of an act which, if done without the sanction of the foreign court, could constitute a violation of that country’s sovereignty. Letters rogatory may be used in countries where multi-lateral or bilateral treaties on judicial assistance are not in force to effect service of process or to obtain evidence if permitted by the laws of the foreign country.

dnaWhat this means is that the Cambodian government has asked France to aid in the investigation for two reasons. First, the victim, Ms. Begnis, was a French citizen. Second, France utilizes modern DNA investigative techniques, something Cambodia lacks.

Oliver Van Den Bogaert’s guilt or innocence would appear to hinge on whether the DNA and sperm samples taken from Ms. Begnis’ person match his. If they do not, he will probably be released with an apology. If they do match his and he is convicted of the rape and murder of Ms. Begnis, the maximum sentence he can receive under Cambodian law is life in prison.


Dispatch From Cambodia: Murder In A Sleepy Town

The Kampot Murder: The Chilling Price of Innocence

The Kampot Murder: The Mystery of the Red-Headed Woman

More stories from Bob Couttie







4 Responses to Cambodia Murder Investigation: Update From Kampot

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