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Cousin’s courtroom confession

Chum Vireak, one of the seven suspects in the premeditated murder case is photographed outside Phnom Penh court yesterday.
Chum Vireak, one of the seven suspects in the premeditated murder case is photographed outside Phnom Penh court yesterday. Niem Chheng

Cousin’s courtroom confession

A man accused of the premeditated murder of his cousin confessed at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday that he struck the fatal blows that killed 19-year-old Von Ratha.

In May of last year, the body of Ratha, a female student, was found inside an abandoned home in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district. Police arrested seven people in connection with the murder the same day.

“I confess that I was the perpetrator. But I didn’t intend to kill her. I just wanted to knock her unconscious so I could take her belongings,” said Chum Vireak, who claimed to be a drug user desperate for money to fund his addiction.

He said he called Ratha and told her to meet him and his friends, co-defendants Hong Sochota, 21, and Lim Panhavoan, 22. When she arrived, he brought her to the abandoned home.

“I brought her to the old house and used a brick to hit her on the forehead two times,” he said.

Vireak said after the victim collapsed, he and his two accomplices took her iPhone and motorcycle. The phone was then sold for $70 while the motorcycle was hidden at a rental room in Sen Sok district.

Four other men were arrested at the rental house and charged with harbouring stolen goods.

Vireak, Sochota and Panhavoan were all charged with premeditated murder and face possible life sentences. The hearing will continue on February 17.

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