The former deputy chief of the terrorism office at the Ministry of Interior was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay US$5,000 in compensation over the 1998 murder of a student in the capital’s Stung Meanchey pagoda.
Municipal court judge Heng Sok Na said in court that Som Khem, also known as Meas Samean, was convicted in absentia in December 2003 for the murder of 27-year-old Uy Vanna, who was living at the pagoda in Meanchey district’s Stung Meanchey commune.
“The court sentenced him to prison for 10 years and ordered him to pay $5,000 [to the victim’s family],” he said in court.
He added that Sorm Khem was originally sentenced in absentia to 15 years in jail and ordered to pay $5,000 in compensation, but he appealed to the municipal court for a retrial in August following his arrest in Battambang province on June 28.
Heng Sok Na said that Som Khem used his AK-47 rifle to shoot Uy Vanna following an argument between the two men inside the pagoda on the evening of January 11 1998.
Som Khem declined to comment when contacted by the Post yesterday. However, on November 16 he claimed in court that he had accidentally shot Uy Vanna as the latter attempted to beat him.
“I had no intention to kill him. I fired only two or three bullets into the ground in order to stop him from entering to beat me, but the bullets flew to kill him,” Som Khem said. “I would like to ask the court to reduce my sentence as well as my compensation payment.”