Five men were sentenced to jail terms in six separate robbery cases heard in Phnom Penh Municipal Court Wednesday, despite strenuous pleas of innocence and accusations of police misconduct by some of the defendants and their lawyer.
Tim Makara, 23, was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison for robbery and illegal gun use during a motorbike theft in Prampi Makara district in August 2003, Judge Kim Sophon said in court Wednesday. A separate charge against Tim Makara, involving a motorbike robbery in July, was thrown out.
His accomplice, Men Savath, 24, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for the August robbery, the judge said. The pair’s sentences are retroactive from their imprisonment in Prey Sar prison since August 2003.
Tim Makara and Men Savath maintained their innocence in court, claiming they were beaten by police who forced them to confess and press their fingerprints upon a pre-written statement linking them to the crime.
Their lawyer, Kao Soupha, also objected to the verdict, saying the circumstances of the crime and the evidence placing his clients at the scene were murky.
Kao Soupha said the case should have been thrown out because his clients were jailed more than six months without trial.
“If we look to our law, it states that suspects will be released from jail and freed of accusation if there is no judgment in the [six month] period of detaining,” he said.
Also Wednesday, Thorn Chandany, 18, was sentenced to five years in prison for a September motorbike robbery. His accomplice, Rith Bora, was sentenced in absentia to five years, according to the verdict read by Prosecutor Yet Chakriya.
Chan Nath, 24, received a retroactive sentence of 18 months in jail for the October theft of a motorbike parked in front of the Royal Palace. His accomplice, construction worker Tav Fong, 20, received the same sentence.