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Fishermen sentenced over captain's death

Two unrepresented Cambodian fishermen were sentenced to lengthy jail terms for the attempted murder of a Thai boat captain last week, rights group Tenaganita said yesterday.

Arifin and Kadir Salleh were sentenced to eight and five years in jail in connection with the murder of Thai fishing captain Phat Phetpuk in March, said Aegile Fernandez, anti-human trafficking coordinator of Malaysian rights group Tenaganita, yesterday, citing Malaysian High Court officials. “We were pretty shocked,” she said.

The brothers’ 53-year-old uncle, Keo Kriya, from Siem Bok district in Stung Treng province, said yesterday that the sentence was unjust as the pair had been defending themselves from an abusive slave trader.

Crew members, Fenandez said previously, 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.

“Their mother [Kao Keas] has nearly gone crazy because of the unfortunate things that happened to their family. Sometimes she eats rice and sometimes not,” said Keo Kriya.  

The charges against the brothers had been changed from murder to attempted murder, an offence that does not require mandatory legal representation that Tenaganita had agreed to provide, Fernandez said. The men had not had representation, she said, vowing to launch an investigation into the matter.

Ung Vantha, an official at the Cambodian embassy in Malaysia, confirmed the two had been tried. The Malaysian High Court also could not be reached.

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