Tycoon Nhem Kosal was notably absent from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday as the first day of his trial for allegedly running down and injuring three pedestrians in a fit of rage in June last year started.
The 45-year-old director general of khem Kosal Development and Transport Co Ltd was charged in abstentia with attempted murder and criminal damage by the court, investigating judge Sous Sam Ath said yesterday.
Kosal had argued with his neighbour, Ny Sath, 49, on the day of the incident, according to witnesses. The formerly close friends had fallen out over a $10,000 commission on a land deal, Sath’s wife, Tep Liza, 41, said yesterday.
During another neighbour’s birthday party held at Sath’s house in Sen Sok district’s Phnom Penh Thmey commune on June 16, Kosal flew off the handle after he and Sath had become embroiled in an argument and Sath punched him in the face, witnesses told the court. According to Liza, the pair had both been promised a hefty commission from a land sale involving a mutual friend, but only Sath had been paid.
“He was jealous [of] my family over the $10,000 commission [we made] from selling his friend’s land,” Liza claimed. “So he had an argument with my husband, and also threatened to kill him.
“He drove his car to hit him, and when my daughter and I tried to rescue my husband . . . he drove his car into me and my daughter,” she claimed.
Judge Sam Ath said in court that after knocking down the family, Kosal fled the scene in the Range Rover he had hit them with. He is believed to have fled to Vietnam shortly after the incident.
“After driving and hitting the victims, he managed to drive his car, escaping from the scene,” he said.
Ny Kimhor, Kosal’s defence lawyer, said that Sath had assaulted his client and should be held accountable and fined $20,000.
A verdict is due on April 9.