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Supreme Court hears Olympic Stadium murder appeal

Supreme Court hears Olympic Stadium murder appeal

The Supreme Court on Monday heard the second appeal of a man who remains on the run after a 2013 killing near Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh that saw him sentenced to nine years in prison for intentional violence with aggravating circumstances.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court also ordered Sao Sophanthong to pay 60 million riel ($15,000) in compensation at the conclusion to his original trial on August 12, 2015. The Appeal Court reduced his sentence to seven years on March 23, 2017.

On the night of July 11, 2013, two groups of around five or six people were drinking near Olympic Stadium 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 in 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.

“My son was hacked in the head many times by the convict, who went on Facebook to boast of his gang attacking someone the night before. I would like the court to decide in this case according to legal procedure,” he said.

Maintaining his innocence and dissatisfied with the previous verdicts, Sophanthong hired a defence lawyer to argue his case in the Appeal Court.

Prosecutor Veng Bunthoeun said at the hearing that the prosecution’s case had sufficient evidence and was consistent with witness testimony, while the appellant’s own Facebook page described the violent incident.

“At the Appeal Court, the defence lawyer asked the judge to reduce Sophanthong’s sentence, arguing that there were many offenders involved in the incident but the court had punished only his client.

“I would like the court to uphold the Appeal Court’s verdict,” Bunthoeun said.

Samphon Sopharath, Sophanthong’s defence lawyer, said that nobody at the crime scene gave evidence, while the witnesses who had accused her client had not identified him.

“I would like to ask the Supreme Court to return the case to the Appeal Court for review,” Sopharath said.

Presiding Judge Khem Bun said the court would announce its verdict next Monday.

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