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Bodyguard in double murder trial

Murder suspect Thy Khim Thou (centre) leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court in the rain following a hearing yesterday.

Six men stood trial yesterday in connection with the murder of a Labour Ministry official’s father and brother earlier this year, in a crime court officials suspect may have been an act of revenge.

Interior Ministry bodyguard Yin Bunthoeurn, 38, Thy Sarom, 31, Thy Khim Thou, 25, and Srey Meng Hak, 29, are accused of murdering Hem Veth and his son Hem Bunnak on January 26 in Koh Dach commune in the capital’s Khsach Kandal district.

Yin Bunthoeurn was fired from his job as a personal bodyguard and driver for Hem Veth’s other son, Hem Bunny, the director of the department of employment and manpower at the Ministry of Labour, last October. When asked by prosecutors in court yesterday if he shot the two men because of a personal dispute with Hem Bunny, Yin Bunthoeurn denied the accusation.

“Yin Bunthoeurn was the mastermind of the murder of these two people,” presiding judge Kor Vandy alleged.

“He was also the person who shot dead Hem Veth and Hem Bunnak during the robbery on the evening of January 26 at the victims’ house.”

Kor Vandy said that the four murder suspects had gone to the family’s home on order to commit a robbery.

“When they arrived at the victims’ house, Yin Bunthoeurn pointed his pistol at Hem Bunnak … and ordered Thy Sarom and Khim Thou to tie him up,” he said.

It is alleged that Yin Bunthoeurn then shot the father of his former employer twice in the head, before shooting dead the man’s 31-year-old son.

He added that the suspects then attempted to rob the house, but found no money and stole only three mobile telephones.

Yin Bunthoeurn, Thy Sarom and Khim Thou confessed to robbery, but denied the murder charges yesterday. Srey Meng Hak has escaped arrest.

Yin Bunthoeurn, who is also accused of illegally using a weapon, confessed to the shooting but said he had no intention of killing the father and son.

“I decided to prepare and organise this robbery because I had no money,” Yin Bunthoeurn said. “I decided to shoot them because they tried to defend themselves against me while I pointed a gun at them. They know my face well.”

Meanwhile Yi Sokmeng, 37, a military officer at RCAF Infantry General Command in Phnom Penh, has been charged as being an accomplice to murder, and Ream Choeurn, 54, a military officer at a RCAF Engineering Unit in Preah Vihear province, charged with modifying the weapon used in the crime. Kim Eth, 26, was charged with possession and sale of ammunition. Yi Sokmeng, Ream Choeurn and Kim Eth denied that they were involved in murder, but admitted to their other charges. Hem Bunny could not be reached for comment yesterday. A verdict is due on July 15.



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