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Fishermen face death penalty

Two Cambodian brothers who could receive the death penalty over the murder of a Thai fishing captain in March will face a Malaysian court next week, officials said yesterday, as new details of the case emerged.

Aegile Fernandez, anti-human trafficking coordinator of Malaysia-based rights group Tenaganita, said Cambodian Arifin Salleh would appear in a Kuala Terengannu provincial court next week on a murder charge.
His brother Kadir Salleh has been accused of both murder and attempted murder, she said.

The brothers, she added, had told Cambodian embassy officials in Malaysia that Thai boat caption Phat Phetpuk had forcibly detained them as slaves aboard his fishing boat, a situation that led to a fight between Kadir Salleh and the Thai captain.

Crew members, she claimed, had alleged that during the scuffle between Phat Petpuk and Kadir Salleh, Arifin Salleh had cut a rope tethering the captain to the boat. He then fell overboard and drowned, they said.

Both brothers have denied the charges to Cambodian embassy officials, she added.

Ung Vantha, an official at the Cambodian embassy in Malaysia, confirmed yesterday the brothers would appear for preliminary questioning next Wednesday and would receive formal notification of the charges against them, before the case would be referred to a higher court.

“Of course if [the court] found them guilty with intentional murder then they will be sentenced to death by hanging or other penalties,” he said.  Malaysia has a mandatory death penalty for first-degree murder.

The suspect’s uncle, Keo Kriya of Stung Treng province’s Siem Bok district , said yesterday the news of the arrest had devastated their family.

“Their mother seems to have gone crazy and is not eating food and cannot sleep,” he said.



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