The Supreme Court on Monday sent the 2013 case of a man found guilty of killing a drinking partner at Olympic Market in Phnom Penh back to the Appeal Court after ruling there were sufficient uncertainties to warrant a retrial.
Presiding Judge Kim Sathavy read the verdict after last Monday’s hearing in the absence of Sao Sophanthong, who remains at large.
“After deliberation, the trial chamber finds that there were uncertainties in the case as ruled on by the Appeal Court. Hence, the court transfers the case back to the Appeal Court for retrial,” Judge Sathavy said.
Sophanthong’s lawyer Samphon Sopharoth declined to comment to The Post regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court originally sentenced Sophanthong to nine years in prison, and fined him 60 million riel ($15,000) on August 12, 2015, on charges of intentional violence with aggravating circumstances. The court also ordered his immediate arrest.
However, Sophanthong maintained his innocence and instructed his lawyer to lodge an appeal.
The Appeal Court handed down a lesser seven-year jail term on March 23, 2017, and again ordered Sophanthong’s arrest.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, the victim’s family also filed a complaint with the Supreme Court.
On the night of July 11, 2013, two groups of around five or six people were drinking near Olympic Market when Sophanthong and Bun Kimsorn, the 24-year-old victim, got into a heated argument, the court report said.
Sophanthong left the scene before returning shortly after with another group of people on two motorbikes who were wielding swords and knives.
Kimsorn was hacked several times on the head, suffering serious injuries. He was sent to Calmette Hospital.
After being informed of the incident, the victim’s father rushed back from Kampong Chhnang province and spent a day and night in the hospital with his son before he succumbed to his injuries, the father told the Supreme Court on Monday.
Knowing Sophanthong’s identity, the victim’s father was able to find his Facebook page, which spoke of the incident, before filing a complaint with Olympic commune police.