A group of men convicted of kidnapping five people at gunpoint in 2002 saw their 30 year sentences upheld by the Appeal Court yesterday, Jan. 9, 2013, and their convictions on robbery, kidnapping and illegal detention stand as well.
The court vice president and presiding judge, Chuon Sunleng, said Yoeun Han, 31, Yem Yan, 35, Tong Him, 30, In Thoeun, 27, and Hang Hoeun, 33, were indeed responsible for kidnapping five people – including three children – in two ransom plots that took place less than a week apart in 2002 in Kampong Thom’s Khsach commune in Baray district.
Nguon Im, another Appeal Court judge, said the kidnappings began on June 4, 2002, when the men, all of whom were armed with AK-47s, burst into a home in Khsach commune with the intent of robbing its occupants, settling on ransom instead when they couldn’t find the money quickly enough.
“During the robbery, they kidnapped a wife of a man in order to extort money,” he said, noting that the woman was held for about five hours. “They released her after her husband gave them four million riel [about $500] in exchange for her release.”
Five days later, he continued, the men robbed another village family, kidnapping a woman and her three children, and demanding roughly 14 million riel from her family.
“They released the victims three days later after the husband gave them 13 million riel for exchange with their releases,” he said.
Kin Vibol, Han’s defence lawyer, called for the judge to grant leniency on behalf of his client, saying that, ultimately, no serious harm was done.
“In these cases, there was no serious damage and the victims were not killed,” he said.
“Therefore, I would like to ask the Court of Appeal to reduce my client’s sentences so that he will able to return to meet his family.”
Han echoed his attorney’s request for leniency, saying that he now acknowledged his guilt.
“I accepted that I have committed these [crimes] as accused,” he said. “I know my mistakes now. I would like to ask the court to reduce my sentence.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]