Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced 12 young members of a high school gang calling itself the CX Boys to prison terms of one to seven years for the shooting and beating of two bystanders they suspected of being members of a rival group last year.
Presiding judge Suos Sam Ath sentenced purported ringleaders Huoth Cheang Meng and Vanny Paneth, both 18, to seven years each for aggravated commission of a violent act and unauthorised use of a weapon. Their six co-defendants, aged 17 to 19, were sentenced to between one year and six years on charges including aggravated commission of a violent act, being an accomplice to such an act and stealing a motorbike.
“The court has ordered all of the accused to pay a total of $1,850 in compensation to the victims for damages,” he said.
Por Sen Chey district police chief Lieutenant Colonel Yim Sarann said that the 12 accused had arranged a rumble with a rival gang from a high school in Sen Sok district.
“They set an appointment to fight with each other at the Hun Sen Chumpou Voan High School on October 1,” he said. “But they confused [two bystanders] with the other gang. They beat, shot and injured the two innocent youths, who had ridden their motorbike past.”
One victim, 19, was shot twice in the thigh and hip, and the other, 10, received a number of serious cuts to his head, Sarann said. Police seized a K-59 pistol, 10 cleavers and five motorbikes.
Even if last year’s assault was a case of mistaken identity, students and an administrator at the CX Boys’ high school said yesterday that arranged rumbles weren’t unheard of, with fights between the CX Boys and other gangs even occurring within the same school.
The school’s vice director, Pen Sothy, could only confirm that three of those convicted yesterday were former students, including one named Pok Malin, who has been expelled.
“He brought other gangsters here to beat another student, so we deleted him” from the roll, she said, noting that the fights had become less common in the past two years.
However, one grade 11 student said yesterday that even now it was sometimes easier to avoid eye contact than risk a fight with the CX Boys.
“Some [rivals from other schools] will be riding motos, and they will block each other on the way and fight,” he said, describing gang fights he had witnessed. “Sometimes they have swords and knives, or brass knuckles.”
“Sometimes it’s about girlfriends or boyfriends,” he continued. “Sometimes they just don’t like to look at someone’s face. Like me, if I’m walking down the street, I try not to look at anyone’s eyes, because it might make them angry.”
Choam Chao commune police chief Morm Hor said yesterday that the number of “gangsters” in the district had decreased in recent years, but not disappeared.
“There used to be a lot” before an extensive crackdown, he said. “[But] I can’t say they’ve all been cracked down on, [because] when they have an argument, they might start back up.”