The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced four men to between 30 years and life in prison for a grenade attack in Phnom Penh last year, an attempted assassination that injured five people and killed the intended target’s 11-year-old son.
Presiding judge Leang Samnath convicted the group of conspiring to murder 56-year-old Sorn Sin – a rival of the plot’s “mastermind”, Phy Nop – by tossing a grenade at the family’s home in Sen Sok district on the evening of October 9.
Nop, 46, the former chief of Kouk Roka commune, who had clashed with Sin over commune politics and a land dispute, was found guilty of planning and initiating the premeditated murder of Sin and handed a life sentence.
Accomplice Noun Samrith, 28, was also sentenced to life in prison for lobbing the grenade that exploded just two metres from Sin and his relatives as they ate dinner on their patio, seriously wounding five, including Sin, and killing his son.
Eng Dalin, who drove the motorbike from which Samrith threw the explosive, received 30 years in prison, as did Pov Bunthoeun, 34, former president of the local council, the Andoung 6 Association, who served as a go-between and hired the two triggermen. Both were charged as accomplices.
“Based on hearings, the evidence and their confessions, the court has found that they all are guilty,” Samnath’s verdict read.
During the trial, Nop confessed to plotting the murder and hiring hitmen, saying he was angry because Sin had accused him of buying votes and bribing the Phnom Penh Municipal Election Commission.
Samrith told the court during the trial that he was hired for $5,000, but was paid only half as he had missed his intended target.
He said that Bunthoeun had hired him and trained him on how to throw the grenade.
Bunthoeun, addressing the court last week, confessed to his role as well, saying he was promised $10,000 by Nop.
Nop, who was ordered to pay about $180,000 in compensation to the victims, yesterday said he would appeal the verdict.
“I cannot accept this court’s verdict,” Nop said as he left the courtroom. “It is an injustice for me, because I did not throw the grenade which killed the victims as accused.
“To find the truth and justice in this case, I have already appealed this court’s verdict to the Appeal Court.”
Driver Dalin, 28, also signalled his intention to appeal.
“I think that the court’s decision was very heavy for me. I will appeal it soon,” he said.
Sin, the target of the October attack, welcomed the court’s decision.
“I am happy, as the court has found justice for me and my relatives,” he said, after the verdict.
“I think that the court’s decision was right and just and I can accept it.”