Six Tried for Fatal Shooting of Bakery Owner in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yes­­terday tried five men and a wo­man on charges of premeditated mu­r­­der and possession of an illegal weapon in October’s fatal sho­ot­­ing of a bakery owner. A verdict is ex­pected at the end of the month.

Men Nob, 25, Ton Vichet, 39, Mon Sokha, 39, Chan Sereyboth, 22, Sorn Savoeun, 22, and Sorn Sor­phea, 29, were arrested following the Oct 15, 2010, shooting of Sim Rotha. Rotha died after being shot twice in­side his Toyota Land Cruis­er in Pram­pi Makara district. At the time, po­lice suspected the murder was the fallout of an argument with the sus­pects and not a robbery.

In court, two of the suspects ad­mit­ted to shooting Mr Rotha but claimed it was in order to steal his car.

“I did the crime with Mr Serey­both, and the case is not related to the other people because I wanted to rob the victim’s car for myself,” said Mr Savoeun. His testimony was echoed by Mr Sereyboth. Ac­cor­d­ing to both men, they intended mere­ly to rob the victim but shot him when he fought back.

Both Ms Sorphea—sister of Mr Savoeun—and her husband, Mr Sokha, denied involvement but ad­mit­ted to having had an argument with the victim over damage sustained to a house he had rented from them.

“I didn’t order my brother to kill the victim even though my husband and I had a dispute with the victim over a rental contract,” said Ms Sorphea.

Mr Vichet, an assistant to a brig­adier general in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Bodyguard Unit, said in court he sold a gun to Mr Savoeun at his boss’ behest. The name of the bri­g­adier general was not re­vealed in court documents or police records.

Deputy prosecutor Ek Chheng Huot said it was clear from the con­­­fessions that the murder was in­­tentional. “I request the court to con­­sider whether it is a premeditated murder or a robbery,” he added.

The victim’s wife, Chheak Kun­tha, is seeking $400,000 in com­­pe­n­sation. “My husband died re­­lated to revenge,” said Ms Kuntha.

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