The Appeal Court yesterday reduced the prison sentence of a police officer convicted of fatally shooting three people from 10 to two years, saying the shooting was a case of self-defence.
Police officer Keo Sovannarith, 26, was sentenced last June for shooting the three men – including a village chief – over a fight about donations for street lights in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Svay Prey I commune on December 16, 2015.
Yesterday, judge Chay Chandaravan explained the victims had brandished a sword at the accused, who warned them not to enter his house. The victims entered nonetheless, prompting Sovannarith to fire.
“The suspect tried to protect himself, so I decide to uphold the charge. However, I reduce the punishment,” Chandaravan read from the verdict.
On the day in question, Phumi 4 village chief Chuok Lay, 62, had asked the accused for $50 to help cover the cost of installing public lights. However, Sovannarith gave him only $25, claiming two families who benefitted from the lights had not paid.
Lay went home but later returned armed, along with his son Lay Bun Hoeun, 18, and nephew Bun Rithy, 30, all of whom were shot.