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Three defendants, two at large, get life in killing

Three defendants, two at large, get life in killing

Two men remain at large after being convicted of murder and handed life sentences in absentia, while their accomplice – a publisher of a little-known local newspaper – was also sentenced to life for the crime on Friday.

Seng Pharada, alias Mab, and Suon Saray, alias Bo, have never been arrested for the murder of Srun Sopheak in May last year.

Judge Ly Lipmeng issued warrants for their arrests and ordered the three perpetrators to pay a total of 90 million riel ($22,000) in compensation.

Som Kimsean, 38, the publisher of newspaper Sovann Nokor, confessed the three had drugged the victim at a karaoke bar and later strangled him in his 2007 Toyota Camry, which the trio then sold for cash in Kandal.

But he later claimed he had been coerced and tortured into giving that confession to police. His defence lawyer, Vichet Theara, had fought for Kimsean’s charge to be downgraded from premeditated murder to benefitting from theft.

“In principle, the answer obtained by coercion and torture is not valid . . . I could only make a request to the judge, but he has discretion,” Theara said.

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