The Kandal Provincial Court yesterday sentenced a 16-year-old girl to 20 years in prison for the murder of her 9-year-old neighbour in Ang Snuol district.
Oeurn Sopheap was charged on November 9 last year with the murder of Keat Seavly, whose body had been discovered a few days before drowned in a rice field close to her home in Tomloup Kpos Cheung village.
Sopheap was accused of stealing Seavly’s gold earrings and a platinum ring, which Sopheap sold at a nearby market for $28.
Initially, after Seavly was reported missing, Sopheap had even helped authorities in their search. Once the young girl was found dead the following day, however, she hid in a field, only to be found and arrested later that night.
Court spokesman Ek Sun Reaksmey said: “According to her actions she would have been sentenced to life in prison, but as she was underage, it was reduced to 20 years.”
At the time, residents of Tomloup Kpos Cheung, the village where Seavly and Sopheap grew up, were shocked by the murder.
“She never stole or committed crime,” village chief Yong Sieng said in November.
“I think the crime is generally because of drugs or alcohol that leads to violence, but the murder case in my village had nothing to do with that.”
Child Protection Unit (CPU) director James McCabe, who assisted during the investigation of Seavly’s death, said yesterday that such cases were “even harder to comprehend when the offender is a child themselves”.