The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard the appeal of a man convicted of strangling a seven-year-old girl and throwing her body in a pond in Kandal province’s Koki commune in Kien Svay district in 2017.
Heng Chanthim, 25, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
He told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that on the day of the murder, he had gone to the house of a man named Phun Pheaktra to borrow a battery to electrocute fish.
Pheaktra was not at the house, only the girl. He stole a battery and asked the girl to sit behind him on the bicycle to carry it.
While riding the bicycle, battery acid splashed on his back. He rode towards a pond about 50m away from a dirt road. Upon arriving at the pond, he took off his clothes and went to the pond to wash the acid off his back. But the girl cried loudly.
“I was afraid people on the road would hear her cries and think I raped her because I was only wearing my underwear. I strangled her and dropped her into the pond.
He said he was arrested by police on August 4 after he fled to a construction site in Ang Snuol district’s Bek Chan commune for three days.
He told the court he served more than two years in prison aware of his mistake. He requested the court to reduce his sentence.
Pheaktra, the father, told Judge Kong Srim that the provincial court ordered the convict to pay $6,000 in compensation.
But Chanthim’s family had paid only $2,000 in compensation. He was still owed $4,000. Pheaktra said he stopped demanding the remaining money and withdrew the complaint.
Supreme Court prosecutor Chan Dara Rasmey said on Wednesday that according to statements of the convict at the provincial court hearing and the Appeal Court, he had no intention to kill the girl. But because the girl cried, he killed her out of fear.
“I studied the case and the convict intended to kill the victim. The sentence is correct and I would like the court to uphold the ruling,” he said.
Defence lawyer Bun Kung said his client admitted to his guilt. But he filed a Supreme Court appeal because he hasn’t come to terms with the harsh sentence.
The lawyer asked the court to refer the case back to the Kandal Provincial Court.
After the 30-minute hearing, Judge Srim said a decision will be announced on September 15.