Three men and two women accused of stealing the motorbike of a 21-year-old man murdered last year at a roadblock stood trial on Thursday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, with all five suspects denying involvement in the crime.
Defendants Zet Manrozet, 23, Pen Chamnab, 18, Nhem Kanitha, 20, Him Sopheak, 23, and Pech Sonet, 22, were accused of involvement in the fatal shooting of Din Bunnarith, who was stopped by four men blocking the road with two motorbikes while driving his 2015 Honda Dream through Tuol Kok district on December 11.
He was shot in the head and his motorbike was stolen.
Shortly afterward, military police arrested Mr. Manrozet and Mr. Chamnab in their rented room, and were then led to two other robbers, known only as Lim and Mey, who were at a restaurant eating river mussels with two women, Ms. Kanitha and Ms. Sonet. A firefight broke out, and Lim and Mey were killed. Mr. Sopheak was arrested in January, while another man, Eng Arafin, 26, remains at large.
Military police said the suspects were members of a violent gang that had committed multiple robberies in Meanchey and Sen Sok districts that claimed three lives last year. However, Thursday’s trial dealt only with the crime against Din Bunnarith.
All five suspects are charged with illegal possession of a weapon and aggravated theft. Mr. Manrozet is also charged with repeating a crime.
Presiding Judge Heng Kesaro said during Thursday’s trial that the defendants had admitted their involvement to military police.
However, in court on Thursday, all five denied involvement. Mr. Manrozet said “I did not participate” in the robbery.
Under questioning from prosecutor Seng Heang, the four other suspects also denied participating in the theft of Din Bunnarith’s motorbike. Mr. Sopheak admitted that he had committed a robbery alongside Mr. Chamnab in the past, but said he was with his girlfriend at the time of the crime.
A verdict was set to be announced on August 12.