The Appeal Court on Tuesday heard the case of three people who were sentenced along with three others to six years’ imprisonment for attempting to force open a container to steal goods in Phnom Penh in 2016.
In the courtroom, one of the convicted men, Horm Brya, 25, told the judge that he had been a container truck driver for So Nguon Group for six years.
Brya said on November 11, 2016, his company had told him to drive the container to the port in Phnom Penh, but instead, he accidentally headed towards Preah Sihanouk province.
He said a man who he knew only as Kong – a foreman at So Nguon Dry Port – then tried to make him force open the container so he could steal its contents.
He said the foreman told two men – Thy Tith Eng, 38, and a 22-year-old man known as Roeurn – to wait at a location in Kampong Speu province to receive the stolen goods.
Meanwhile, Brya’s trucking company had alerted the authorities and he was arrested.
He said the Phnom Penh Municipal Court delivered its verdict on December 7, 2017, handing down a six-year jail term to all the suspects for attempted theft with aggravated circumstances according to Article 357 of the Criminal Code.
“I was told by Kong to force open the container but on that day I was really confused and had taken the container in the wrong direction. I request the judge to reduce my sentence,” Brya said.
Tith Eng told the judge that he and Roeurn were called by Kong to carry some stolen goods in Kampong Speu province, but when they arrived, Kong told them to leave the area because the company had been made aware of the plot.
“We filed a complaint with the Appeal Court as the sentences the lower court gave us were too heavy especially considering we were unsuccessful in our attempt to steal the goods."
“We have only stolen from containers two or three times. I request the court to give us a three-year sentence,” he said.
Prosecutor Tan Senarong said the appellants had not managed to steal from this container, but their behaviour should not be tolerated because it affected the country’s image.
“Stealing goods from containers affect Cambodia’s image. Sometimes when the containers arrive in other countries, only two or three boxes of goods remain. So I request that their six-year jail terms are upheld,” Senarong said.
The lawyer representing the three convicted men, Peung Yok Hieb, summed up by saying her clients had not actually stolen the goods.
She said the lower court had charged them with violently forcing open a container to steal goods under Article 357 of the Criminal Code and requested the court to amend the case and charge them under Article 356, for standard theft, instead.
Judge In Vanvibol said a verdict would be delivered next Monday.