PRIME Minister Hun Sen's nephew Nhim Sophea, 22, was sent to prison yesterday for
18 months for his involvement in the shooting of three people with an AK-47 assault
rifle in central Phnom Penh last October.
His accomplice, Sam Doeun, who is still at large, was sentenced to 10 years' jail
Sophea was convicted of unpremeditated murder and sentenced by Judge Tan Senarong
to a total of three years' jail, 18 months to be served immediately, and 18 months
suspended, with five years on probation.
Sentence was passed after a two-hour closed hearing at the Municipal Court. Police
guards prevented the public and media entering the courtroom. Details of the sentencing
were obtained from court staff.
The sentencing brings closure to an incident that shocked Cambodia when a four-car
convoy driven at high speed allegedly by the sons of influential families, plowed
into a truck parked to unload coconuts on Sihanouk Boulevard near Olympic Stadium
about 11 pm October 27.
People were injured, their friends protested angrily and in the aftermath Sophea
allegedly pulled the gun from a car and sprayed bullets around, killing three people.
Four others were injured, either in the collision or by bullets.
Sophea claimed the gun was fired while he was trying to grab it from Doeun and stop
him shooting people.
Dy Borima, Nhim Sophea's lawyer, told reporters briefly outside the court: "I
cannot say anything now; the court has sentenced my client for unpremeditated killing.
I have not decided whether to complain to the court of appeal yet; I will discuss
this with my client."
The trial of Nhim Sophea had been postponed several times due to what was said to
be lack of evidence since he was arrested in late November. Previous hearings were
open to the public.
Nobody has yet been charged with offences relating to the collision with the truck
and the resulting injuries.
Nhim Sophea is the son of Nhim Chandara, an under-secretary of state at the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, and Hun Sinath, Hun Sen's younger sister.