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Man jailed for life over factory murder

A man given life in prison for killing a Chinese garment factory owner says he will appeal the “heavy” term, insisting it was his co-defendants who committed the murder.

Soy Huong, 21, broke down in tears yesterday at Phnom Penh Municipal Court after being sentenced to life in prison for slaying 44-year-old Li Zhang on May 2.

Huong was alone before presiding judge Top Chhun Heng, as his co-defendants Soy Sophea, 21 and Yim Vantha, 38, remain at large.

“The court’s decision was very heavy on me,” Huong, a garment worker, said outside court, adding he would appeal.

“I have accepted that I was involved in the victim’s murder, but I did not kill her.”

At about 6pm on May 2, Huong, Sophea and Vantha attacked Zhang in her handicraft factory, not far from Phnom Penh’s airport in Por Sen Chey district.

Hours earlier, Zhang had fired Sophea and six other employees from the workshop in Chom Chao commune’s Trapaing Thloeng village, accusing them of being bad workers.

Incensed at being dismissed without compensation, Sophea enlisted Huong, his cousin, and friend Vantha to take revenge.

Pretending to be a job seeker, Huong tricked Zhang into opening the door, allowing his accomplices to rush inside.

Armed with a cleaver, a cattle prod and a pair of scissors, the trio tortured their victim, shocked her and stabbed her in the stomach before cutting her throat and leaving her for her staff to find the next morning.

They also stole her motorbike, laptop and bag.

In an attempt to soften his role in the brutal murder, Huong, who was caught after trying to pawn the stolen laptop, shifted the blame to his co-defendants, saying he only held the victim and covered her mouth to muffle her screams.

However, Lieutenant Colonel Yim Sarann, Por Sen Chey district police chief, said Huong played an active role in the crime.

The hunt continues for Sophea and Vantha, who were given life sentences in absentia for premeditated murder under Article 200 of the Penal Code.

Top Chhun Heng said Sophea used the alias “Phea”, while Vantha was also known as “Pum”.

“The court orders their arrest. They must be brought to serve their punishment,” he added.

None of Zhang’s relatives attended the trial. Her husband, however, filed a complaint demanding justice for his wife’s slaying.

Meanwhile, 27-year-old Heng Chenda, owner of the shop where Houng pawned the laptop, who was initially arrested, has been released with police ruling he had no connection to the murder.



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