The lone man still facing jail time on charges of intentional violence and damaging property during a violent September clash between police and demonstrators at Phnom Penh’s Kbal Thnal overpass will appeal his conviction.
Nguyen Thydoc, 21 was sentenced to three years in prison on Friday, but his sentence was reduced to one year, with more than five months of that sentence already served. The rest of the so-called Kbal Thnal six, free on bail since October, saw their charges dropped or were handed sentences that amounted to time served.
Long Samoeun, 28, and Van Nin, 40, were convicted and sentenced to three years, but their sentences were reduced to 25 days. Charges against Ek Channoeun, 17, Song Nisay, 21, and Tang Chunse, 19, were dropped.
“I am very upset that the court sentenced [Thydoc] to such a harsh punishment,” said Chum Doeu, Thydoc’s boss at a construction company, who was with him the night of his arrest. “I don’t believe Thydoc would commit the crime he was convicted of, because he is very gentle and docile.”
Police set up a roadblock at the Kbal Thnal overpass on the first night of a three-day Cambodia National Rescue Party demonstration held from September 15 to 17. In court, Doeu said that Thydoc was driving the truck in which she was a passenger and had only got out of the truck to see what the traffic holdup was.
Police subsequently arrested him, believing he was one of the people throwing rocks and damaging property as the scene near the roadblock intensified. The eventual crackdown saw a man shot dead when police fired live ammunition into the crowd.
At his February 17 trial, Thydoc testified that his confession had been coerced, saying he only confessed to throwing rocks because the police interrogating him had shocked him with electric batons. Thydoc is the only defendant of the six who did not received bail.
During the trial two weeks ago, none of about 30 witnesses for the prosecution – all police – who took the stand could identify any of the six defendants. None of the police who testified for the prosecution said they knew which police department made the arrests.
Other defendants expressed relief when Friday’s verdict came out.
“I am over the moon that the court decided to acquit charges against me,” said Nisay.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN