A former two-star general and tycoon was yesterday sentenced to life in prison for murdering his mistress and their young daughter, while his son and son-in-law were handed lesser terms for helping to dump their bodies.
Fifteen months after Va Davy, 29, and her daughter Kim Thaychida, 6, were found dead, wrapped in black plastic, next to a roadside in Kampong Speu, Phnom Penh Municipal Court presiding judge Heng Kesaror found Kim Marintha, 57, guilty of their brutal slaying.
Convicted of intentional murder with aggravating circumstances, Marintha, a former adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Ke Kim Yan, was also ordered to pay $200,000 compensation to Davy’s mother, 53-year-old Mey Lili.
The court heard Marintha, the owner of GST Express Bus Company, among other ventures, strangled Davy on a bed at the GST office in Phnom Penh on February 15 last year after discovering she was having an affair with a younger man.
He throttled their daughter after she tried to intervene to save her mother, according to Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Vong Bunvisoth.
The tycoon then enlisted the help of his son-in-law Chea Soksamnang, 36, and son Kim Senrith, 37, who, initially charged as accomplices, were yesterday convicted of the lesser charge of helping to dispose of the bodies.
The former, present in court, received 18 months, the latter, yet to be caught, was sentenced in absentia to 30 months.
The bodies were wrapped in black plastic bags and put in a 150-litre ice chest, which was loaded in Marintha’s Lexus by two GST security guards, Bunvisoth said.
Soksamnang and Senrithy drove the box to the Pich Nil area in Kampong Speu and left it by the side of the road, the court heard.
Although Marintha claimed he didn’t intend to kill his victims, James McCabe, of the Child Protection Unit, which helped in the investigation, said evidence indicated a premeditated attack, with plastic purchased before the murder.
McCabe praised the five-month joint investigation and branded the verdict a “step forward” in Cambodian justice, noting Marintha’s perceived “untouchable” status, given his political connections.
Marintha opted not to attend the verdict, delivered 10 months after he was extradited from Thailand, where he fled following the crime.
Marintha’s lawyer, Kang Rithy, called the sentence “very heavy”.
Outside court, the victim’s mother, Mey Lili, said she was “very happy” about the sentence but added:
“It cannot bring my daughter and granddaughter back to life.”