A former two-star military general who confessed to murdering his wife and daughter, stuffing their bodies in a cooler and having two relatives dump them in the forest was sentenced to life in prison by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday.
Kim Marintha, 57, said that he strangled his 30-year-old wife, Va Dary, to death in February 2014 after finding out that she was gambling and having an online affair. During the attack on his wife, he said, he knocked their 6-year-old daughter down a flight of stairs, breaking her neck, before ordering his son and son-in-law to dispose of the bodies in rural Kompong Speu province.
With its judgment Friday, the court rejected Mr. Marintha’s claim that he had killed the two “accidentally.”
“The court sentences the defendant, Kim Marintha, 57, to life in prison for premeditated murder,” Presiding Judge Heng Kesaro told the court.
Mr. Marintha’s son, Kim Sem Rithy, was also sentenced in absentia to 2 and 1/2 years in prison for concealing a corpse and illegal weapons possession. Chea Sok Samnang, the son-in-law, was handed an 18-month term for his part in dumping the bodies in Kompong Speu.
Judge Kesaro also ordered that Mr. Marintha pay $200,000 in compensation to Va Davy’s mother, Mey Lyly.
“The amount of compensation is not equal to the life of my daughter and granddaughter,” Ms. Lyly, 50, said following the verdict. “But I will accept it as I am happy for him to spend his life in prison.”
Mr. Marintha, the owner of the GST bus company in Phnom Penh, was arrested with the assistance of Interpol in September 2014 while attempting to cross from Thailand into Laos, seven months after the decomposing bodies of his wife and daughter were found in plastic bags in Phnom Sruoch district.
After his arrest, Ms. Lyly told how her daughter was a virtual prisoner in the Tuol Kok district mansion gifted to her by her wealthy husband, who visited just once or twice a week. She said her daughter developed an online relationship with a Cambodian man living in Japan.
When he confessed to the murders in May, Mr. Marintha told the court his wife was “gambling and made love to another man,” which he said caused him to lose his temper and sparked the fatal attack.
“I don’t like gamblers and liars,” he told the court.
According to a penal police report, however, Mr. Marintha had ordered staff at his GST bus company to buy “big, black plastic bags” on February 12, three days before the murders. A large cooler was also purchased, according to the report.
Following the sentencing Friday, Mr. Marintha’s lawyer Kang Rithkiri maintained that his client had killed his wife in an unforeseen fit of rage.
“The sentencing is very serious,” he said.
“According to the judicial police’s evidence, it was a sudden murder, so the court should charge him with manslaughter rather than premeditated murder,” he added.
“We will discuss appealing the decision.”