15-year-old Scrap Scavenger Says Police Framed Him
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court put on trial Friday a 15-year-old boy for allegedly stealing the handbag of Deputy RCAF Commander-in-Chief Kun Kim’s wife during a party in Chamkar Mon district last year, court officials said.
Heang Panha, a scavenger, testified in court that he and his younger brother, 13, were collecting beer cans near the party when police apprehended him and intimidated him into confessing to taking the handbag.
“I didn’t steal the bag but the police threatened and forced me to confess. I was scared of the police so I said I stole the bag,” he told the court.
Before his trial on Friday, the 15-year-old had been in pre-trial detention at Prey Sar prison since August last year. According to law, in the case of a misdemeanor, provincial detention in jail cannot exceed two months if the minor is under 16-years-old.
According to a witness’ statement read by a court clerk, two other scavengers, and not Heang Panha, had stolen the handbag and fled the scene with a motorcycle-taxi driver.
In her absence, a court clerk read a statement by Kim Chanly, General Kim’s wife, in which she said that she had about $10,700 in cash and two cell phones in her missing handbag, but that she wanted to withdraw her complaint against the accused.
The general’s wife also said that she did not want compensation from the 15-year-old and requested that the court release him on bail.
Judge Din Sivuthy said he will announce a verdict on July 26.