Family questions Canadian's death at Laos airport
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, May 31, 2015 10:16PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 1, 2015 6:28AM EDT
The family of an Edmonton man who died under mysterious circumstances while on vacation in Southeast Asia is calling on Ottawa to help them get answers.
In January, Laos officials ruled that Nara Pech, 28, died by suicide. They said he stabbed himself to death with broken glass in the Wattay International Airport in the capital of Vientiane.
Pech’s horrified family believes that he may have been murdered, and is seeking the Canadian federal government's help. So far, the family says, little has been done to help them find the truth.
The 28-year-old had recently graduated from York University in Toronto and had decided to travel across the world for some downtime before beginning the next stage of his life with his fiancée.
"He wanted to travel, see the world," fiancée Maureen Chear tells CTV News. "He'd just graduated and (Southeast Asia) was on his bucket list of things to do."
After a week in Cambodia with some friends, Pech decided to return home to see Chear. He was dropped off at the airport on Jan. 21.
Pech never made it home; his body was found in the Laos airport.
His family received word of his death from the Laos officials, who said he had died by suicide.
"Our first phone call, they said that he committed suicide,” said Chear. “(They said) he was detained, he was put in an isolated room, that he had gotten very angry and he had broken a vending machine."
But his family has questioned this conclusion; they say chilling voicemails left by Pech while he was at the airport suggest that he may have been in danger.
"I'm in Laos and they're trying to hurt me. I need help, dad. Call the embassy, please," Pech is heard saying in the voicemail message left for his family.
In another voicemail, Pech said his boarding passes were taken away and he was being accused of making defamatory remarks about Cambodia's prime minister.
"Apparently I said something about Hun Sen, or something, and everybody is trying to get me to leave the airport so they can kill me," Pech said. "I'm not guilty."
At the time, authorities reportedly told a local news agency that Pech had been acting strangely and stabbed himself three times with a knife.
However, an autopsy performed at the scene said that he sustained many more stab wounds to chest, stomach and neck.
The report also said that four knives were found near the body.
"It looks like he was murdered,” said Chear.
"I feel they are covering it up, they just want to sweep it under the rug," said Pech's sister, Sarena Armsworthy. "They rely on their tourism, so something of this magnitude is not good publicity for their government."
In a statement sent to CTV News, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs said that they are helping the family and are continuing to liaise with them.
But Armsworthy told CTV Edmonton that representatives have told her they can't get "involved" in the investigation because it is taking place in a sovereign state.
With files from CTV Edmonton