SIEM Reap provincial court has dropped a robbery charge against the son of a military commander and instead sentenced him to six months in prison for use of an illegal weapon, Judge Ith Samphos said Sunday.
Chea Sophal, the son of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Military Region 4 commander Chea Mon, was sentenced in absentia to six years and six months in prison in 2007 after the court found him guilty of stealing a mobile phone.
He was arrested in March, at which point he asked that his case be retried, saying he had been receiving military training in Vietnam at the time of his original trial.
Ith Samphos said Sunday that the court’s decision to drop the robbery charge against Chea Sophal had been reached last Tuesday.
“We have dropped the phone robbery charges against Chea Sophal, but we have charged him with using an illegal weapon and sentenced him to six months in prison as well as a fine of 2 million riels (US$475) counting from the date of his imprisonment on March 24,” Ith Samphos said.
He declined to specify why Chea Sophal had faced an illegal weapon charge, but said it was related to the robbery charge.
Pich Samol, the deputy provincial military police chief, said it was his understanding that the robbery charge had been too difficult to prove three years after the incident.
“The court’s decision to drop from a robbery charge to an illegal weapon charge may be right because there was not enough evidence to press charges against Chea Sophal from a long time ago,” he said. “There was no victim who could speak about his guilt.”
He also asserted that the March arrest of Chea Sophal had been ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen because of suspicions that he was involved in illegal logging.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he did not know enough about the case to comment on it.
Pich Samol, meanwhile, said no evidence had emerged linking Chea Sophal to illegal logging.