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Two get life for fatal school seizure

Two get life for fatal school seizure

The Siem Reap Provincial Court sentenced two Cambodian men to life in prison on December 9 for the botched June 16 school siege that resulted in the death of a Canadian toddler.

Five other men were also jailed for their involvement. The highly anticipated decision was announced after a four-month investigation.

The court determined that Chea Sokhom, 18, masterminded the takeover of the Siem Reap International School in an effort to kidnap his Korean employer's children for ransom. His cousin, Un Ny, was charged with providing the handgun used in the takeover, and conspiring to deliver the men to Thailand after the crime. Both were sentenced to life in prison. The takeover, which made international news, left two-year-old Maxim Michalik dead.

Though the pair received life terms, three of their associates in the siege - Khim Chem, 20, and Van Tisopheak and Sin Tha, both 22 - were each sentenced to 20 years in prison. Ouk Samnang, who knew about the plot and failed to inform the authorities, was also sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiracy. Two other men, Loek Soeun, 34 and Mam Chandara, 45, were each sentenced to two years and fined about $250 for providing Ny with the weapon.

Four of the suspects were arrested in the aftermath of the five-hour standoff last June. The kidnappers tried to leave the scene, but were overpowered by police surrounding the school.

Judge Plan Chhlam presided over the trial, and said that testimony was given by the dead child's parents, representatives from the Canadian Embassy, teachers from the school, and parents of the other children involved in the takeover. He said Maxim Michalik's parents were relieved that it was over.

"They [agreed with] the punishment for the defendants," he said. "[The parents] thanked the court and the authorities for [providing] justice in this case."

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