Court Hears Case of Paraplegic Man’s Murder

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday heard the case of a 33-year-old woman charged with the aggravated murder of a paraplegic man during a failed robbery at the man’s residence in the city in April 2012.

Presiding Judge Chaing Sinath said Mak Vannthy had killed her neighbor, 22-year-old Phan Sophanara, after forcing her way into his home in Prampi Makara District.

Ms. Vannthy attempted to rob the man, deputy court prosecutor Cheth Khemera said, explaining that she had slit his throat and stabbed him in the torso multiple times when he attempted to prevent the theft.

Ms. Vannthy told the court that she had taken a knife to Phan Sophanara—who lost the ability to move his legs during a botched medical procedure as a teenager—when the man attacked her after requesting her help in fixing his television.

“He pushed me down to rape me and I was afraid of him. I waved a knife in my hand up and down and then I stabbed him many times on his body,” she said, denying that she had attempted either to rob or kill her neighbor.

“I did not cut his throat but I had a knife with me to use to defend myself when he tried to rape me,” she said.

Ms. Vannthy admitted, however, that she had taken the man’s television from his house after stabbing him.

Defense lawyer Nguon Sovanary requested that the charges against Ms. Vannthy be changed from murder to manslaughter given her claim that she had killed in self-defense.

Chan Sambo, a lawyer representing Phan Sophanara, rejected Ms. Vannthy’s claims and said that the defendant had climbed into the man’s house to rob him and then callously murdered him when she saw he lived alone.

“It is very bad behavior to chop and cut the throat of the victim to the point of his death before taking his property from his home,” Mr. Sambo told the court, requesting a 30-year prison sentence for Ms. Vannthy.

Mr. Sambo and the deputy prosecutor said there was no evidence Phan Sophanara had attempted to rape Ms. Vannthy.

The court will announce its verdict November 25.

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