The Pailin Provincial Court on Wednesday sentenced a 32-year-old man to life in prison for the November murder of his sister-in-law, her husband and their 6-month-old daughter, whose bodies were found in the ashes of their burned-down home in Sala Krao district.
The defendant was arrested the day after police found the bodies.
According to investigators, electrical wire had been tied around the necks of the couple—Sala Krao commune clerk Heng Ravy, 29, his wife, Thy Phallay, 25—while blows to the head had broken most of their teeth and ruptured their eye sockets. Their daugher, Heng Muychuo, likely died in the fire, police said.
Chhaom Chamnan attempted to escape arrest, but was shot in the leg by a bullet that police said was meant to be a warning shot. He later confessed to murdering his in-laws because they had refused to loan him money for his cassava plantation.
Presiding Judge Sun Neatheavy on Wednesday convicted Mr. Chamnan of premeditated murder and sentenced him to life in prison, according to prosecutor Chum Sen Sothea.
“This morning, the court decided to sentence him to life in prison,” he said, adding that Mr. Chamnan was also ordered to pay 70 million riel, or about $17,000, to the victims’ families.
Mr. Chamnan is married to the older sister of Thy Phallay. Yesterday, her mother, Sean Sok, said that her eldest daughter—Mr. Chamnan’s wife—had been devastated by the murders and went to work in Thailand, leaving their daughter in her care.
“I don’t understand why he took revenge, because both of their families really loved each other,” she said.
But despite the cruelty of Mr. Chamnan’s crimes, Ms. Sok said the court’s punishment was too severe. “If Chamnan is in jail for life, who will be responsible for his daughter? Because I am old,” she said.
Meng Sarom, chief of O’Chet Pram village, where the victims lived, said the decision was just. “Of course he deserved life in jail, he killed every member of that family,” he said.