Slaying Trial Opens With Verbal Attack

A verdict is expected Friday in the trial of eight men charged in connection with a grenade attack that killed the co-owner of the former Peace Cafe on Street 86.

Jeun Sokha, 26, died March 14, 2001, when a piece of grenade shrapnel pierced her heart. She owned the cafe with her husband, British national David Finch.

Before the five-hour trial began in Phnom Penh Municipal Court Tuesday, Finch rushed at the defendants, screaming in Khmer, “You killed my wife! She was in­nocent! Are you happy at Prey Sar prison?”

He was restrained by friends.

Police say Hin Bor, 21, and Ham Savet, 34, were drinking with friends at a karaoke parlor next door to the Peace Cafe when they began arguing with a group of youths.

The two older men were from Banteay Meanchey province, and the youths ridiculed them for dressing like peasants and drinking rice wine.

Witnesses testified Tuesday they saw Hin Bor carry a grenade into the karaoke.

Judge Nob So­phon, reading Hin Bor’s testimony to the investigating judge, said the defendant told the youths: “Don’t come or you’ll be killed.”

Ham Savet, a military policeman, told the court he had a K-54 pistol but did not use it that night.

The judge noted that police failed to provide evidence on how powerful the grenade was.

“There was a report from the Cambodian Mine Action Center that the shrapnel pierced the door and hit the victim,” responded Prosecutor Chhin Chiva.

Pen Roeun, Jeun Sokha’s mother, asked the court to find justice  and order the killers to pay $10,000 com­pensation. She said she spent $3,000 on her daughter’s funeral ceremonies.

“She was my eldest daughter, and I depended on her,” she said.  “She had just started the business with her husband.” The couple had a son, who was 14 months old when his mother was killed.

Eight men faced a variety of weapons and manslaughter char­ges, but two have fled prosecution, court officials said.


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