A Cambodian police officer accused of shooting and killing a Vietnamese national was sentenced to 25 years in prison in Vietnam on Tuesday after officials opted not to give him the death penalty, an official confirmed yesterday.
Lay Bunthy, a deputy police chief at the Phnom Den International Checkpoint, crossed into Vietnam last year to visit his “second wife” when the deadly altercation broke out. The Cambodian national has been in a Vietnamese prison since July 2016 on charges of murder and hiding an illegal weapon, making him eligible for the death penalty.
A district police chief in Takeo, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to discuss the case, said he believed the accused was spared the death penalty because he was a Cambodian national. “He should get the death penalty or life in prison according to their law,” he said. “But Bunthy is a Cambodian policeman that is why they decided to sentence him to 25 years in prison.”
Vietnam has sentenced foreigners to death previously, including an Australian and a Singaporean last year.
The official blamed a Vietnamese gang for the incident that landed Bunthy in jail, saying that gang members had attacked him in the past. The men were shouting insults at each other when Bunthy shot at the men, he added, basing his account on a police report.
Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin noted that Bunthy cannot be extradited, but that a prisoner swap might be applicable.
After the verdict was read, Bunthy’s Vietnamese wife pledged to appeal. Bunthy’s Vietnamese family has been ordered to pay monthly compensation to the victim’s family to help support his children.