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Predecessor jailed for kidnapping cop’s son

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday convicted in absentia ex-National Pol-ice deputy general director Nguon Seur and six others on charges stemming from the kidnapping of Sau Akno, a French citizen and the son of Seur’s successor in the Nat-ional Police, Sau Phan.

According to presiding judge Sin Visal, Seur was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

Accomplices Hun Vanna, 38, and Sem Sopheap, 44, were  sentenced to 25 years.

Cheath Vicheth, 30, Kly Sophy, 32, Suth Sopy, 32, and a man known as Van, 44, were sentenced to 22 years each.

“They were all ordered to jointly pay $1.2 million in compensation to the victim,” Visal said.

Seur and his accomplices were charged with kidnapp-ing, illegal detention of a person and illegal weapon possession after abducting  Akno in front of his Phnom Penh home last October and demanding a $1 million ransom.  

Seur and company released Akno 16 days later after receiving a payment of $500,000, then fled the country. It was widely believed that Akno’s kidnapping was an act of revenge against his father, who had taken Seur’s position.

Of the six convicted, only Suth Sophy was ever arrested.

Thun Leap Phea, Sau Akno’s lawyer, applauded the court’s decision yesterday, calling it “justice for my client”.

But Yong Phanit, the lawyer appointed to represent Seur — as well as Vanna, Sopheap, Van, Vicheth and Sophy — said the court’s decision was unfair and, because of his clients’ absence, had taken into account only the police’s side of the story.  

“It was very unjust for my clients,” Yong Phanit said.

“I would like to ask the court to conduct their hearing again.”

Suth Sophy’s defender, Thorn Borey, called his client’s punishment “very heavy” and unfair to someone who had acted only on the orders of others.  During the trial, Sophy had claimed that he was only Seur’s driver.

“To find justice for him, I will appeal the Phnom Penh Court’s decision to the Court of Appeal soon,” Borey said.

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