PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday found a 22-year-old security guard guilty of stabbing a 71-year-old Malaysian businessman and his 51-year-old Cambodian chef to death in February, sentencing him to 20 years in prison.
The killings occurred on February 24 at the Chamkarmon district home of the businessman, Lim Theang An, director of the Malaysia-based engineering firm Karasans. At a hearing on October 12, the prosecution argued that the killing of Lim Theang An and the chef, Hem Mali, was pre-meditated.
According to a police report, the accused, Nop Thearo, stabbed the two victims while working the evening shift. He placed a safe at the entrance of the house in an attempt to make police believe the killings were the result of a robbery gone bad, then waited for police to arrive, the report states.
Nop Thearo told the court on October 12, however, that he had been acting in self-defence. On the night of the incident, he said, Lim Theang An and Hem Mali appeared to mistake him for a thief and attacked him, stabbing him and hitting him on the head with a petrol can. He said he stabbed Hem Mali twice after she grabbed his penis and “refused to let go”.
Hun Sam Ath, Nop Thearo’s lawyer, said yesterday that the verdict was “unacceptable”. “It should have been slashed down to a minimum sentence following his confession at all levels of the investigation,” he said, and added that he did not know whether Nop Thearo would decide to launch an appeal.
The verdict, read out by Judge Ke Sakhan, rejected a request from the company for US$70,000 in compensation, but noted that the families of the victims would have one month to submit their own compensation requests.
Pek Vannak, a lawyer for the company, said he did not know whether it would appeal.