Six former Phnom Penh Municipal Police officers were sentenced on Friday to 12 years in prison each for their roles in the torture and killing of a woman in police custody in 2005.
Former Minor Crime Police Department chief Hang Setha, 38, his deputy Ly Rasy, 36, and section chief Sim Sitha, 44, were found guilty of conspiring to murder Duong Sopheap, who is believed to have been in her 30s, after she was accused of theft.
Three junior officers Chan Sovanny, 41, Phon Chan Nary, 47, and Oum Samnang, 31, were also found guilty of murder by presiding Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Kim Ravy.
The six officers denied murdering Duong Sopheap and claimed that the woman sustained the severe injuries that led to her death before she was brought to the station.
Witness Ruos Riep testified in court that she and her daughter and nephew brought Duong Sopheap to the station on June 16 because they suspected her of stealing $70, a ring, necklace and earrings.
Inside the station, Ruos Riep said, officer Chan Sovanny restrained Duong Sopheap by pushing her to the floor.
“He only kicked her a little bit,” Ruos Riep said, adding that Duong Sopheap was then handcuffed.
Ruos Riep admitted that her nephew had punched Duong Sopheap, breaking two of her teeth, before taking her to the station.
She added that Ly Rasy gave her $5 to take the unconscious woman to hospital but the doctors told her that she was already dead. Ruos Riep said she decided to leave the body at Wat Koh pagoda.
At one point during her torture, Duong Sopheap was ordered to phone her husband and tell him to bring $100 to the station.
Luon Sam An, who operates a phone booth outside the station, said in a statement read to the court that she brought a phone to Duong Sopheap and witnessed three officers punching and kicking her.
Yim Chandy, the husband of the dead woman, told how police later forced him to sign a statement promising to never complain about the killing of his wife.
“She died because of torture in the control of minor crime police officers,” Prosecutor Ngeth Sarath told the court.