Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Top cop urges heavy charges in petty thefts

Top cop urges heavy charges in petty thefts

National Police Chief Neth Savoeun attends a meeting last week where he suggested bag snatchers be charged with attempted murder.
National Police Chief Neth Savoeun attends a meeting last week where he suggested bag snatchers be charged with attempted murder. Photo supplied

Top cop urges heavy charges in petty thefts

In a meeting last week with top cops from around the country, National Police Chief Neth Savoeun “encouraged” officers to push for charges of attempted murder for theft suspects, though legal experts doubted intent to kill could be proven in court.

Savoeun’s comments were made on Wednesday during a meeting with police chiefs, according to a post on the National Police website. Kirth Chantharith, National Police spokesman, did not respond to calls yesterday.

“HE Neth Savoeun, national police chief, encouraged [police] to file complaints against thefts on the streets [with charges of] attempted murder,” a recap of the meeting reads. He justified the instruction by saying light sentences do not deter criminals from reoffending.

Under the Criminal Code, petty robbery would carry a charge of “theft” or “theft with aggravating circumstances”, with a sentence of six months to three years in prison for the former, and five to 10 years for the latter.

Chin Malin, Justice Ministry spokesman, said police can suggest whichever charge they want, but only prosecutors can decide which is applicable.

Independent legal and human rights expert Billy Chia-Lung Tai, meanwhile, called the suggestion to charge petty thieves with attempted murder “ludicrous”.

In most thefts, such as those where the perpetrators snatch bags in traffic and end up injuring their victims, the intent to cause death or very serious injury is not there, Tai said.

“The thieves simply want to grab whatever it is they set out to grab,” he said. Tai added that perhaps it is also worth thinking about why people are committing thefts in the first place and to start “tackling the social problems that are present”.

Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun also challenged the rationale for harsher sentencing, saying thieves reoffend because jails lack rehabilitation services.

Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro

MOST VIEWED

  • Man arrested for fake PM endorsement

    The owner of currency exchange company GCG Asia Co Ltd was temporarily detained by the court yesterday for attempted fraud after Prime Minister Hun Sen reacted to the company using his name and pictures to allege his endorsement of the firm. Phnom Penh Municipal Court

  • Archeologists find ancient phallic statue

    An archeological team has found a metre-long tipless stone linga (penis) of the Hindu deity Shiva in the foundations of a temple in Kratie province’s historical Samphu Borak area, a former capital of the pre-Angkor Empire Chenla period. Thuy Chanthourn, the deputy director of

  • Sihanoukville authority orders structure dismantled

    The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration has ordered owners of two unauthorised construction sites to immediately dismantle them and warned of legal action if the owners failed to comply. Ly Chet Niyom, development management and construction bureau chief at the provincial hall, told The Post on

  • China steel company relocates to Cambodia

    Chinese state-owned iron and steel company China Baowu Steel Group Corp Ltd has unveiled plans to relocate its blast furnaces from Xinjiang Autonomous Region in the northwest of China to Cambodia, which will be the first overseas Baowu production plant, a Reuters report on Wednesday