THE son of the chief of Phnom Penh’s Samrong Krom commune was among seven men handed jail sentences on Friday following the murder of a Daun Penh district police officer in 2008.
The commune chief’s son Phen Tu, 22, and his friends Phoeun Phallath, 20, Han Vicheth, 20, Tim Phoan, 22, Hak Rotha, 22, and Mean Samnang, 15, were found guilty of murdering policeman Khieu Samphea and were ordered to spend 15 years in jail. All six men are now on the run.
Neak Pha, 22, was also found guilty of murder at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, but received a seven-year sentence following his arrest on May 5, 2010.
Presiding Judge of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court Sin Visal ordered the men to jointly pay 30 million riel (about US$7,500) to the victim’s family. Sin Visal also ordered authorities to find the six other suspects and bring them before the court to face justice.
Lim Bunna, the lawyer for the victim’s family, welcomed the court’s verdict but stressed the need for the remaining suspects to be found.
“To bring real justice for the victim, who has already passed away, as well as his family, I would like to ask the court and authorities to take action in arresting the escaped criminals and bringing them to serve their [sentences] and pay the compensation to the victim’s family,” he said.
Lim Bunna said that Khieu Samphea was attacked by a group of men in December 2008 while he was riding his motorbike home in the Trapaing Thnong village of Samrong Krom commune. He was robbed of a mobile phone, a pistol and money.
“He was seriously hit on the back of his head and died a day after he was taken to a hospital in Phnom Penh,” he said.
Neang Hay, lawyer for the convicted suspects, denied all charges and said that their sentences were too harsh.
“According to local police reports, the victim’s death was caused by his own driving. He was not killed in a robbery.
“If he was robbed by my clients, his motorbike would have been taken by them. But his motorbike was still with him when he was wounded,” he said, adding that he would consider an lodging an appeal on behalf of his clients next week.