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Man in appeal court over life imprisonment charge

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Sorn Pov walks into his appeal court hearing. Kim Sarom

Man in appeal court over life imprisonment charge

A man who was given a life sentence for his involvement in his friend’s murder in Battambang province, asked the Appeal Court on Wednesday to reduce the sentence since he was not the main perpetrator of the crime.

The accused, 29 year-old Sorn Pov, told Appeal Court Judge Sin Visal that he is a drug addict and on April 11, 2014, he and his friend, 28 year-old Sok Chan were drinking alcohol in Kamrieng district’s Boeung Raing commune.

He said they decided to phone the victim, Ly Sovannarith, and ask him if he wanted to meet and buy drugs to consume together.

Sovannarith arrived on a motorbike and was directed towards the quiet area under the pretence of purchasing drugs. When they reached a quiet area, Chan took out a stone and began attacking him in the neck from behind, at which point Sovannarith began to fight back, he said.

He said he then held the victim’s hands at the back while Chan pummelled him to death with the stone. “We killed him only because we wanted his money. We planned to kill him,” Pov said. He also said they took a gold necklace and a ring before disposing of the body in a nearby pond.

They killed Sovannarith, he said, so as not to leave any evidence of the robbery so he couldn’t report them to the police afterwards. A resident spotted the body days after the murder and informed commune police.

Initially, police believed Sovannarith had drowned, but after examining the body they concluded that he was murdered and launched an investigation. Pov was arrested shortly afterwards but Chan escaped.

The provincial court announced the verdict of life imprisonment on June 29, 2016, after finding him guilty of premeditated murder under Article 200 of the Criminal Code. The authorities also ordered stepped-up efforts to find Chan.

Pov said: “I have appealed to the court because I disagreed with the provincial court’s decision to give me life imprisonment. I ask the court to reduce my sentence,” he said.

Prosecutor Pen Sarath said the accused had confessed to the offence which matched police findings so the judge should use his discretion to consider leniency.

Pov’s defence lawyer Nou Chantha concluded that his client made the confession and was not the main perpetrator in the murder. He also said there was no third party evidence or proof that the accused was involved in the murder at all.

“If the killing was because of revenge, he would not have taken Sovannarith’s property. I ask the judges to change the charge to stealing property with aggravating circumstance that caused the victim’s death,” he said.

Judge Visal said the verdict will be handed down on March 29.

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