2007 Building Site Thieves in Second, Very Similar Trial

Four construction workers who were sentenced to prison terms in 2007 for stealing construction materials from the Council of Ministers building site stood trial for a second time on Monday on other counts of theft from the same worksite, court officials and lawyers said.

Kim Chantha, Chan Soben, Chan Sobun and Khiev Nath were sentenced in December 2007 to between one and 10 years in prison for stealing materials in 2006 from their employer, Security VIP Co, according to Dun Vibol, their lawyer.

Though they are still in prison, the four are now being tried again for stealing additional construction materials from the Council of Ministers’ site a few days after the original theft, Mr Vibol said.

Municipal Court Judge Sin Visal said Wednesday that the court had separated the two very similar thefts into two separate cases because they took place on different days.

“If someone stole something on one day, it was one case. And if that person stole something else on the next day, it was another case,” Mr Visal said.

He added that the announcement of the verdict had not yet been scheduled, because the case was very complicated.

At the 2007 trial, Security VIP Co had accused the defendants of making away with $200,000 worth of materials and demanded $200,000 in compensation, Mr Vibol said, adding that his clients were too poor to pay this much money and had filed an appeal against the verdict.

This time, the company is only asking for $900 in compensation, and Mr Vibol said he was still unsure whether the defendants would appeal.

Khiev Van, a lawyer representing Security VIP Co, declined to comment yesterday, saying that he had not participated in the trial and did not know about the case.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said that he believed the court should not try the same suspects again for an almost identical crime committed at the same site. He said the court should focus on rehabilitating the defendants rather than meting out stern punishment.

“I don’t know whether this was justice,” he said.

 

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