Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a 48-year-old French national to six years in jail for attempting to rob a bank in the capital’s Chamkar Mon district in February and for possessing an illegal weapon during the hold-up, Presiding Judge Sin Visal said.
Francois Chateau was also fined 1 million riel, or about $250, and ordered to pay 2,192,800 riel, or about $550, in compensation to Cambodia Asia Bank.
After yesterday’s hearing, Mr Chateau called the verdict unfair, citing the fact that he was drunk during the robbery and regretted committing the crime.
“I drank one bottle of wine; I think the decision of the penal judge is not fair because I was drunk,” he told a reporter after the verdict was read. “I will appeal.”
Mr Chateau was arrested Feb 8 after robbing the Cambodia Asia Bank on Mao Tse Toung Boulevard. He was apprehended after a bank staffer grabbed a loaded Glock pistol he put on a table while waiting for the tellers to give him money, which caused Mr Chateau to attempt to flee. He tried to make off with $275, but knocked himself out by running into a glass door.
Mr Chateau’s attorney, Dun Vibol, said he accepted the fine and compensation, but said the six-year jail sentence was too harsh. Mr Vibol cited “extenuating circumstances” and said he would appeal the jail sentence. He explained that Mr Chateau suffered head injuries from a motorcycle crash in 2009 and now has “a problem with his brain,” which should sway the court to show his client leniency, Mr Vibol said.
“My client and I can accept the decision of the penal judge, but the penalty does seem a bit serious,” Mr Vibol said.
Cheng Penghap, an attorney representing Cambodia Asia Bank, said the judge’s decision was fair and appropriate for the crime committed, but declined to comment further.
Deputy prosecutor Keu Bunnara declined to comment after yesterday’s hearing.