Former RCAF Officials, Civilians Sentenced for Kidnapping Case

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday sentenced two for­mer RCAF officials and four ci­vilians to prison for the kidnapping of a Cambodian-American wo­man in August.

One RCAF official and a civilian were sentenced in absentia, while the other four men attended the trial and were subsequently taken to Prey Sar prison.

Klout Sothy was abducted shortly after arriving in Cambodia on Aug 22 from California and held for a $5 million ransom for four days, trial Judge Nhean So­vann said.

Four of the men were arrested after releasing the victim un­harmed on Aug 29 without the ran­som being paid.

Former RCAF Lieutenant Colo­nel Kim Vanthai, 49, was sentenced to nine years in prison, while Thach Khom, 36, a former mem­ber of RCAF’s Brigade 70 who the judge said led the kid­­nappers, was given 10 years in ab­sentia.

Nhean Sovann gave nine years each to Him Samey, 40 and Touch Sophan, 43. Men Chan­dara, 48, received seven years and Sang Han, 46, was given 10 years in absentia.

The men were all convicted of kid­napping and possession of illegal weapons.

Him Samey confessed to guarding the woman in a patch of jungle some 100 meters off Na­tional Route 4 in Kompong Speu’s Phnom Srouch district. He said he and Sang Han re­leased her out of pity.

“She talked to me about [Bud­dhist] dharma lessons,” Him Sa­mey recalled.

The other four men were in­volved in the abduction but did not guard the victim.

Kim Vanthai, an acquaintance of the victim, told the court that he went to her Chamkar Mon dis­trict home on the day of the kidnapping, and telephoned the gang to tell them to carry out the ab­duction.

Touch Sophan told the court that he was an innocent taxi driver who had accidentally driven the gang, and that he had confessed under torture. But the judge said telephone records im­plicated Touch Sophan in the ransom demands.

Defense lawyer Nach Try asked the judge to delay the verdict so an investigation into the pos­sible involvement of the victim’s husband, Ou Dara, could be un­dertaken. The judge overruled the motion, saying no suspect had ever implicated him.

 

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