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Appeal of UN murder charges

Chea Pin (left) is escorted into Phnom Penh Municipal Court in late December, where he was found guilty for the double murder of a Dutch national and her baby daughter.
Chea Pin (left) is escorted into Phnom Penh Municipal Court in late December, where he was found guilty for the double murder of a Dutch national and her baby daughter. Hong Menea

Appeal of UN murder charges

The convicted man sentenced to just 13 years in prison for murdering a Dutch UN worker and her baby daughter last year in Phnom Penh could face a lengthier sentence if a pending appeal is successful, according to court documents.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Nou Veasna sentenced Chea Pin, 35, to 13 years in prison in December after convicting him of murder without aggravating circumstances. Pin confessed to stabbing to death 31-year-old Daphna Beerdsen with a screwdriver and bludgeoning her 19-month-old daughter, Dana – who later died in a Bangkok hospital – in a robbery gone wrong in April.

Viewing the sentence as too lenient, Beerdsen’s family, with the help of Phnom Penh-based Child Protection Unit (CPU) lawyers, asked that Pin be retried under more serious charges, CPU operations manager James McCabe said.

Beerdsen’s family authorised CPU to make the appeal to Prosecutor General Ouk Savuth, who then filed to the Appeal Court, McCabe said.

In the document, dated January 28 and obtained by the Post yesterday, Deputy Prosecutor General Tith Sothy suggested the punishment was too lenient for the crime committed.

“According to the sentencing, the [judges] have to check and decide again,” it says. “[Thirteen years] is not suitable for the action that he committed by killing the mother and daughter.”

It goes on to say that Pin, who was charged under Article 199 of Cambodia’s Penal Code – which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years – should be “charged and punished” under articles 200, 202 and 205. The first two articles amount to charges of premeditated murder with aggravating circumstances due to the status of the victim, who may be “particularly vulnerable by reason of his or her age”.

Under 200 and 202, offenders can see prison terms of 15 to 30 years, while a sentence of life in prison is possible under Article 205, which is murder accompanied by cruelty, torture or rape.

Pin told police and court officials that he climbed the wall in front of Beerdsen’s Tonle Bassac home to steal a bicycle on April 27. When Beerdsen caught him and screamed for help, he stabbed her with a screw driver, then stabbed and bludgeoned her toddler daughter.

Beerdsen was found dead the next morning, while her daughter Dana was flown to Bangkok for treatment of her critical injuries. Dana died at Bangkok General Hospital on May 7.

Seng Singheng, an attorney for the prosecution, said in December that Judge Veasna may have weighed Pin’s statement that he was drunk at the time, that he had no education and that he had only intended to steal a bicycle – not kill two people – when handing down the sentence.

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