Man Receives Life Sentence for Killing Cousin for Valuables

A 21-year-old man who fatally beat his teenage cousin with a brick last year in order to steal her mobile phone and motorbike was sentenced on Monday to life in prison.

Chum Virak was convicted of premeditated murder and theft with aggravating circumstances over the death of 19-year-old high school student Von Ratha, Phnom Penh Municipal Court Presiding Judge Top Chhun Heng said.

Two accomplices, Hong Sochouta, 21, and Lim Panhavon, 20, were each sentenced to 30 years in prison for their part in the murder, which took place in May in Phnom Penh.

The three men were also ordered to pay 40 million riel, or about $10,000, in compensation to Von Ratha’s father, Vath Von.

“I will not feel at ease because our daughter died while they are offered food and sleep well in prison. They face no difficulties,” Mr. Von said. “Forty million riel is not much. It is not equal to our love.”

Two women, Leng Dany, 18, and Kry Chanthou, 18, and two other men, Sok Sopheap, 18, and Sok Sophea, 22, were each sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for receiving stolen goods—Von Ratha’s belongings.

Mr. Virak pleaded guilty during his trial’s first hearing on January 25, admitting to arranging to meet his cousin and hitting her with a brick, while Mr. Sochouta and Mr. Panhavon watched, with the intention of stealing her iPhone 5s and 2007 model Honda Dream motorbike. Her body was left in an unfinished apartment building in Choam Chao commune.

But he said the murder was not premeditated.

“I did not think ahead. I just hit her to knock her unconscious and get her belongings and motorbike,” Mr. Virak said. “I did not want to kill her.”

According to Mr. Virak’s testimony, Mr. Sochouta sold the phone for $70, for which Mr. Virak received $50, while the motorbike was taken to a rented house where Ms. Dany and Ms. Chanthou were staying.

Mr. Virak’s attorney, Lay Longdy, maintained on Monday that the killing was unplanned and said he would discuss with his client whether to file an appeal of the life sentence.

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