The Koh Kong Provincial Court on Monday sentenced a 36-year-old construction worker to life in prison for the murder and attempted rape of his friend’s 15-month-old daughter in April, according to the defendant’s lawyer, who vowed to appeal the decision.
Le Dang Shuong was arrested in Koh Kong’s Mondol Seima district on April 12 after the body of Ly Sinh was found in the trash about 500 meters from the home of her father, Ly Hai.
According to police, Mr. Dang Shuong had been staying with Mr. Hai while the two men worked at a nearby construction site, and offered to take the toddler to buy cake after spending most of the day drinking palm wine. A witness told police that she saw Mr. Dang Shuong grab the girl by her legs and smash her head against stones on the ground, while investigators determined that she had also been raped, having discovered bruising and bite marks on the suspect’s genitals.
Mr. Dang Shuong’s lawyer, Sam Chamroeun, said Presiding judge Chhun Davy on Tuesday found his client guilty of premeditated murder, handed him a life sentence and ordered him to pay the victim’s family 18 million riel, or about $4,500, in compensation.
“We cannot accept the judge’s decision,” Mr. Chamroeun said. “My client has mental health problems. We will appeal this verdict as soon as possible.”
Tan Kimrany, a local monitor for rights group Adhoc who was present for the sentencing, said she welcomed the court’s decision.
“I think this conviction is justice for the family of the victim because [Mr. Dang Shuong’s] actions were so cruel,” she said.
Hour In, a monitor for right group Licadho who investigated the case, disputed the claim that Mr. Dang Shuong suffered from mental health problems.
“Based on our investigation, the suspect is not a mentally ill person and intended to rape and kill the girl,” he said.
Judge Davy said she was too busy to comment.