The Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld a Kandal Provincial Court verdict acquitting a 16-year-old girl of the pre-meditated murder of a 6-year-old and ordering the girl’s family to pay $5,000 in compensation to the family of the victim, court officials said.
Kandal Provincial Court charged the suspect in 2007, when she was 13, after she allegedly stole a 6-year-old’s gold earrings and then drowned the young girl in Sa’ang district’s Svay Rateal commune.
In 2008, the provincial court acquitted the teenager of the murder charge but ordered her family to pay $5,000 in compensation to the family of the girl she was accused of killing.
Appeal court Judge Samreth Sophal said he upheld the verdict because the girl was a minor.
“We decided to uphold this verdict because the acquitted girl was under 14-years-old,” Judge Sophal said.
The appeal was filed by the acquitted girl’s family, which have said they do not have enough money to pay the ordered compensation, the judge added.
Nou Chantha, the lawyer for the acquitted teenager, could not be reached for comment yesterday, while no contact information was available for the lawyer of the murdered 6-year-old.
Chan Soveth, head investigator for local rights group Adhoc, said Wednesday’s Appeal Court decision could send the wrong message.
“The court has not done enough for the victim under the law of Cambodia,” he said. “It has taken compensation as a priority.”
“If the court just tried to compensate the victim’s family, it will encourage other underage people to commit crimes.”
At the time of the killing, Sa’ang District Police Chief Maing Pich said the 13-year-old had confessed to killing the 6-year-old girl.
“According to the suspect’s confession, she did not want to kill the victim and steal her earring,” Mr Pich said at the time. “But she said the victim called her a cruel word so she strangled her and pressed her head under the water until she died, then she took the earrings.”