Man Tried Over Murder of Girl for $56 Earrings

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday heard the case of a man who is accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl in Pur Senchey district last year in order to steal a pair of gold earrings she was wearing worth about $56.

The suspect, Khom Bora, 24, denied killing the girl, Kang Botumvatey, saying he had only helped a friend carry out the murder, which took place in December 2013.

Mr. Bora said his friend, who is still at large, is a gay man and habitual drug user known as Srey Neang. Unprompted, Mr. Bora also told the court that he, too, is gay.

Two days before the murder, the two men hatched a plan to kill Kang Botumvatey in order to steal and sell her earrings, which were worth about $56, Mr. Bora said.

“My friend asked me to coax the girl to watch [go-kart] racing in order to kill her,” he said. “We took her to the forest that is about 30 meters from the car racing place.” He said Srey Neang then strangled the girl, wearing black gloves to prevent his fingerprints from showing up on her body.

“I am not a killer. I only held her hands down. My friend is a killer,” Mr. Bora told the court, adding, “I covered her mouth to stop her from shouting.”

Both deputy prosecutor Meas Chanpiseth and the lawyer representing the victim, San Soudalen, called for Mr. Bora to be convicted of premeditated murder.

“It’s a very cruel case, only [about 1.5g] of gold earrings leading to killing,” Ms. Soudalen said.

The victim’s father, Kim Yan, 57, said outside the courtroom he was seeking $8,000 in compensation and a jail term for Mr. Bora.

Mr. Yan said that after his daughter’s body was discovered in a creek in Kambol commune with a shirt stuffed into her mouth, he was told by neighbors that the girl had wandered away with Mr. Bora. He then tracked down Mr. Bora himself, conducted a citizens’ arrest and brought him to police, he said.

Commune police chief Phann Poeun said his officers suspected that Srey Neang had fled to Kampot, his home province.

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