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Hang Vuthy points to terminal disease in asking for release

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Hang Vuthy is detained by police after years on the run following his escape from prison in 2006. Photo supplied

Hang Vuthy points to terminal disease in asking for release

Wheelchair-bound and allegedly suffering from liver cancer, Hang Vuthy, also known as Yuma Reach, denied in the Appeal Court on Monday that he assassinated Military Police commander Sao Sokha.

Vuthy was sentenced in the lower court to 15 years in prison for the murder.

Yun Narong, the presiding judge, read facts stating that the case began after an anonymous letter in January 2003 detailing a conspiracy to kill Sokha along with Phnom Penh Municipal Court judges Sok Setha Mony and Ouk Savuth.

On April 23 of that year, Vuthy allegedly shot Setha Mony dead while he stopped at a traffic light in the capital.

While investigating the murder, Vuthy, 49, was arrested along with Ly Rasy, 45; Hang Vutha, 43; Prom Sophearith, 41; and former capital police chief Heng Pov, 57.

Prison escape

In April 2015, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced each of the suspects to a 15-year term. However, Vuthy was absent that day as he had escaped prison in June 2006.

“I did not commit the crime because before the incident happened, I was a military police officer and a subordinate of Sao Sokha. Please release me because I have a terrible disease,” Vuthy said from his wheelchair on Monday.

Prosecutor Im Sophan said Vuthy had been denying the charges against him since his case was presented in the lower court.

Concurring, Sam Sorith, Vuthy’s defence lawyer said, “[Vuthy] did not commit the crime and there is no evidence proving so ... I would like to ask the court to release my client because he is fatally ill.”

The verdict in the case will be declared on August 13.

Outside the courtroom, Sun Sophorn, 38, who is Vuthy’s sister, said her brother has been told by doctors in the capital that he has liver cancer and requires care.

“Doctors say he will not live long, so before he dies, I ask the court to free him so that he will know he has been released before he dies,” she said.

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