Court Builds Case Against PM’s Nephew

While police continue to hunt for Nhim Sophea, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew who has been ac­cused of gunning down witnes­ses to his friend’s drunken car crash, a senior court official has said the high-profile absconder could be tried in absentia.

“If the culprit cannot be arrested, the court can try him in ab­sen­­tia, if we have enough evidence and witnesses,” the court of­­ficial said Thursday, after asking not to be identified out of concern for his safety.

He added that the court is sum­mon­ing surviving victims and witnesses “one by one” to build a case against Nhim Sophea.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has issued arrest warrants for five suspects in the case, but Nhim Sophea, as the alleged shooter and a historically protected repeat offender, has been the fo­cus of the investigation.

“There is almost enough evidence” to try him, the official said.

Municipal Penal Police Chief Reach Sokhon said Thursday that police still have no idea where Nhim Sophea is, but added that his men are “keeping an eye out and patrolling around.”

“We hope he will surface to watch the boat races at the Water Fes­tival. If we meet him, we would arrest him,” he said.

“Police could recognize [Nhim So­phea] easily because everybody knows him. It is not his first crime. He has committed crimes five times already,” the police chief said.

Speaking from Takeo town Thursday, Khiev Samros, deputy director of the Takeo Provincial Hospital, said that Sun Lai, who has been comatose due to injur­ies sustained in the Oct 27 collision, has been returned to the capital with the help of Fun­cinpec off­icials and a human rights organization.

He did not sound optimistic about the 22-year-old’s plight.

“It is very hard to judge his fu­ture, because his brain is swell­ing,” Khiev Samros said.

“There are very few brain-damage cases that can become normal again,” he said.

Sun Lai’s family said earlier this week that they were unable to af­ford treatment for him at Phnom Penh’s Preah Kossamak Hos­pital. The high cost of transporting a dead body also pushed them to take Sun Lai back their home province.

Parliamentarian Ky Lam Ang led a delegation of Funcinpec officials to visit Sun Lai in Takeo Thurs­day morning.

“The injured young man looks very pitiful. The Phnom Penh hos­pital threw him away to this hos­pital like a dead dog,” she said.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua said the human rights group Licadho was instru­men­tal in relocating Sun Lai to Preah Bat Sihanouk Hospital.

Reckless youths continued to wreak mayhem early Thursday morn­ing, as a car carrying five drunken young men smashed into a house in Kandal province’s Takhmau district at about 1 am, killing a sleeping woman and one of the passengers, police said.

Denying earlier reports, district police Chief Iev Chamroeun said, “They were not racing. They were very, very drunk. They are very young, and they drive very cruelly.”

The men were speeding down a curve on National Road 2 at more than 100 kmph when the ve­hicle glanced off a lamppost and plowed into the house, Iev Chamroeun said.

The car splintered the bed of 69-year-old noodle vendor Mao Sokhon and killed her.

Police have made no arrests.


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