Man Gets 77 Years for Motorbike Robberies

Over the past two weeks, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has sentenced a 28-year-old man to a total of 77 years in prison over 11 different motorbike robberies carried out last year.

Presiding Judge Chea Sokchandeth sentenced Nuch Samnang to 49 years in prison on September 6 for seven counts of theft with aggravating circumstances and another 28 years for four counts on Friday, when he was also found guilty of illegal weapons possessions, according to Sous Vichearandy, deputy chief of the court’s secretariat.

Mr. Samnang, who has been detained since February, pleaded guilty to the crimes, which involved stealing motorbikes mostly around Phnom Penh’s Dangkao and Cham­kar Mon districts last year, he said. He also admitted to using a K-54 pistol when he carried out the robberies, normally alongside four to six people—five of whom were found guilty of involvement in one case from November.

The accomplices—In Pannha, 18; Chan Pitou, 34; Sam Chinsamerdy, 23; Roeun Theara, 20; and Khiev Sophal, 27—were sentenced on Friday to eight years each in prison, and were also convicted of theft with aggravating circumstances.

Arrest warrants were issued for Mr. Chinsamerdy, Mr. Theara and Mr. Sophal, who were still at large at the time of sentencing, while Mr. Pannha and Mr. Pitou both denied the charges.

Mr. Samnang’s lawyer, Lay Longdy, said the sentencing was too serious for the crime. “I think the court should have sentenced him to five years in prison [per case], because he already admitted his guilt,” he said.

In response to the denials of the two accomplices, Consulting Judge Khy Chhay said he believed the group had been involved in several more cases.

“Your group has caused disturbance around Phnom Penh and spoiled public order,” he said, adding that “people became afraid and fed up.”

Kao Seyha, Mr. Pitou’s lawyer, said his client was a victim of mistaken identity, as Mr. Samnang had only given investigators a nickname and a physical description that did not match.

“There are a lot of injustices for my client,” he said.

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