The publisher of a small newspaper claimed during a hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday that he was forced to confess to a premeditated murder charge.
The accused, Som Kimsean, 38, who publishes the newspaper Sovann Nokor, was arrested in May last year after the body of Srun Sopheak was found dumped in the capital’s Sen Sok district. Two other men implicated in the crime are still on the run.
After Kimsean denied responsibility for the crime, judge Ly Lipmeng requested that the court clerk read the confession police obtained from him.
“I and three other friends including Mab, Bo, and Srun Sopheak went to sing karaoke . . . a companion put sleeping pills into Sopheak’s beer while he was in the restroom,” the police report read.
“When Sopheak was drunk due to the beer, we took him to his car and Bo drove us to somewhere in Sen Sok district.
When we got to a quiet place, we used rope to strangle him and put him in a sack and threw the corpse there.”
According to the statement, the three friends then tried unsuccessfully to pawn the car – a 2007-model Toyota Camry – at Nagaworld for $15,000.
One Nagaworld employee said the suspects had lost some $20,000 in gambling at the casino in the days prior to Sopheak’s death.
But Kimsean said he was coerced into giving that confession, claiming police beat him and broke his tooth, which the judge said was “not possible”.
His defence lawyer requested downgrading the charge to benefiting from stolen goods. A verdict is due on July 1.