Phnom Penh Municipal Court has heard the case against a security guard charged with the premeditated murder of a Malaysian businessman and his Cambodian chef in February.
Nop Thearo, 20, was arrested on February 24 after being accused of stabbing Lim Theang An – the 71-year-old director of the Karasans company, a Malaysia-based engineering firm – to death the previous night at his house in Chamkarmon district’s Boeung Keng Kang I commune.
He is also accused of murdering Cambodian Hem Mali, 51, who was working that night as a chef for Lim Theang An.
According to a police report the accused allegedly stabbed the pair while working the evening shift at the Chamkarmon house. He later allegedly moved the bodies to the trunk of the victim’s car with the intention of abandoning the vehicle.
However, the report said he then changed his mind and dragged the bodies back to the entrance of the house, then brought a safe from downstairs in an attempt to fool police into thinking their deaths were the result of a robbery. The accused then waited for police to arrive.
Nop Thearo denied the charges against him during the court hearing, insisting he had been acting in self-defence.
“I heard loud sounds during the night, and I went to investigate and accidentally touched the front door,” he said. “The old woman then began to shout ‘thief’, but I tried to tell her, ‘It is me, Thearo’.”
He told the court the pair kept screaming, prompting him to try to cover Lim Theang An’s mouth.
He said he was then struck by Lim Theang An in the head with a petrol can.
“He grabbed a knife and stabbed me in the stomach, but I fought him and stabbed him with his own knife in the stomach just once,” he said.
“The old woman then came at me with a knife, but I dodged it and she stabbed the man in the stomach a second time.”
He said the woman then grabbed his penis and refused to let go, leading him to stab her. “It really hurt, and I told her to take her hands away but she ignored me,” he said. “I then attacked her with the knife twice.”
If found guilty of premeditated murder, Nop Thearo faces between 15 and 20 years in prison.
Defence lawyer Hun Sam Ath requested that court officials change the charge from premeditated murder to intentional murder, which carries a sentence of between 10 and 15 years.
“It was a dangerous situation, and he was forced to defend himself,” he said
Lawyer Chhe Vibol, acting on behalf of the victims’ families, said there was “enough evidence” and testimony to convict Nop Thearo of premeditated murder, and added that Lim Theang An’s former colleague Ka Sinath had requested US$70,000 in compensation due to lost consumer confidence and productivity since the murders.
Presiding judge Ker Sakhorn said a verdict is scheduled for October 21.