Pre-meditated murder charges for men accused of plotting attack in capital that left 11-year-old Sin Dara dead and four others seriously injured
A prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged a commune chief and a Sangkat president for their alleged roles in an October grenade attack that killed an 11-year-old boy and seriously injured four other people.
Phnom Penh municipal police arrested Phy Leap, 46, chief of Por Sen Chey district’s Kokroka commune, and Pov Bunthoeun, 34, the president of the local council, the Andoung 6 Association, on Thursday night, said deputy municipal police chief Chuon Narin.
Both were charged in court yesterday with initiating premeditated murder, investigative judge Ly Sokleng said. Leap is accused of driving the motorbike from which the grenade was thrown while Bunthoeun is suspected of ordering the attack.
Police last week arrested Nuon Samrith, who allegedly threw the grenade at a Sen Sok district grocery store, in what police suspect was an attempt on the life of Sin Sorn, 56, a rival of Leap and Bunthoeun’s.
“[Leap and Bunthoeun] were preliminarily accused by military police of initiating premeditated murder, conspiracy to premeditated murder,” Phan Dararith, deputy commander of Phnom Penh’s Municipal Military Police said yesterday.
The investigators’ working theory is that the attack was politically motivated related to conflict in communal roles with Sorn and land disputes between the victim and suspects, said Sen Sok district police chief Mok Hong.
Witnesses say that two unknown men pulled up to the shop house on a red motorbike on October 11, lobbed a grenade at the building and drove away. A truck parked there shielded several people from fatal injuries, but Sorn’s 11-year-old son, Sin Dara, died from his injuries at a local hospital.
“After the grenade exploded, I saw six people wounded and dying on the bloody ground,” witness Yeng Ry, 53, said yesterday. “They were later rescued by police, who sent them to the hospital.”
Defence attorney for both suspects Tuoth Lux yesterday told the Post that there was no evidence linking his clients to the crime and he would submit a request for bail today.
James McCabe, operations director at Phnom Penh’s Child Protection Unit, which is assisting police with the investigation, yesterday said all three could face life in prison if convicted. He said he expected court charges to include premeditated murder and contracting a murder.
“It was a fairly vicious attack,” McCabe said. “Anyone who throws a grenade at a group of people is intending to kill them.”
Additional reporting by Sean Teehan