An accused told the Appeal Court on Monday that he was in Preah Sihanouk province when a gold vendor was shot four times and killed in 2012, and his bag full of jewellery stolen.
“The others just put the blame on me. I do not know those three people who are said to be my friends,” Sem Sathya told the court as he appealed for his release.
The “others” he was referring to were those suspects who were arrested with him in 2014 – Sok Sopheak, Sun Vannak and Lay Sophat.
Court documents show that on March 14, 2012, the suspects shot the vendor four times with a K59 pistol, killing him and making off with the bag full of jewellery he was carrying.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a verdict on June 25, 2015. Sopheak and Sathya were each sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment, while the other two were released.
During the hearing on Monday, Sathya told the presiding judges that prior to the murder-robbery case, he had been jailed twice in connection with drug trafficking (and hence, he was not a killer).
Phou Povsun, one of the three judges, argued that the convict had been asked to provide evidence to prove if he really was in Preah Sihanouk on the day of the incident, but he failed to present any evidence or even a witness at his trial.
“Police showed the witness some photos [the suspected perpetrators]. The witness pointed at your photo because they had seen you brawling with and shoting the victim,” the judge told Sathya.
Prosecutor Sar Yuos Thavarak concluded that according to the findings, the convict is guilty of what he was charged of.
He said that Sathya’s sentence was “appropriate”, and thus the court should uphold the municipal court’s verdict of 2015.
However, Sathya’s attorney Sieng Siveayo cast doubt on the police report and the witness’ ability to tell the real perpetrators from thepresented photos.
“The case happened in 2012 and my client was arrested in 2014, which means it is not a case of him being caught red-handed."
“Police did not see my client committing the crime. Therefore, I call for my client’s release,” he told the judges.
In March, Sopheak’s lawyer urged the court to drop the charges following his argument that Sopheak was not at the scene of the murder-robbery.
Judge Tith Sothyboraleak said the verdict of the hearing will be announced on Friday, December 7.