Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a former commune police officer to 12 years in jail for murdering two men and injuring two others in a neighborhood brawl last year.
Meas Vongsaneath, an officer in Sen Sok district’s Khmuonh commune, was arrested in July 2010 after he went to his neighbor’s home in Phnom Penh Thmei commune and used an AK-47 rifle to shoot four people, killing two. The two families had been involved in a physical dispute earlier that day.
“The court sentences Meas Vongsaneath, 44, to 12 years in prison and orders him to pay 80 million riel [about $20,000] to Uo Soy, wife and mother of the two victims,” Presiding Judge Ke Sakhorn said yesterday.
However, the court also sentenced Ms Soy herself to one year of probation and fined her 10 million riel [about $2,500] for her role in the brawl. She was shot in the arm and injured by Mr Vongsaneath, but is accused of physically assaulting him along with a neighbor, Dul Sovann, who was tried in absentia and received the same sentence as Ms Soy.
During their trial last week, both Ms Soy and Mr Vongsaneath denied the charges against them. Ms Soy said she had jumped into the fray in an attempt to end the fight between her husband and son and the officer. Mr Vongsaneath claimed he only shot the victims in self-defense after they attacked him.
Her lawyer, Pen Sovanny, said Ms Soy was not happy with the court’s decision because she felt the killer of her husband and son, Long Hun and Long Lyheng, had escaped with a light sentence.
“My client lost her husband and son,” Ms Sovanny said. “My client may appeal because she is not satisfied with the court’s decision.”
Defense lawyer Khov Naro said the sentence imposed was too harsh, because Mr Vongsaneath was merely defending himself in a fight instigated by Ms Soy and her family.
“Mr Vongsaneath and his family cannot accept it, and my client might appeal,” he said.