A group of 23 South Koreans arrested for operating illegal gambling websites out of two Phnom Penh homes will serve five months in prison before being deported, a municipal court judge ruled on Friday.
Presiding Judge Ly Sokleng handed ringleaders Kim Young-soo, 34, and Han Doung-son, 36, two-year sentences but suspended the bulk of it to match the five-month sentences given to their 21 accomplices.
According to Judge Sokleng, the two men were arrested at a pair of rented homes in Sen Sok district in February following an investigation by police and officials from the Telecommunications Ministry. During a search of the premises, authorities found computers, hard drives and other equipment that investigators have used to link the men to several illegal football gambling websites.
During their trial on Wednesday, Mr. Kim and Mr. Han denied any knowledge of the sites, claiming they had rented the houses for other businesses.
Speaking through an interpreter, Mr. Kim said he arrived in Cambodia in December and paid $1,500 to rent one of the homes, with the intention of opening an online store with 11 Korean housemates.
“We were just preparing to open an internet home-shopping site,” he said.
“Who bought the equipment? Did you have any connection with the online football gambling?” Judge Sokleng asked Mr. Kim
“No! It is not related to gambling,” Mr. Kim shot back, later admitting that he had not obtained licenses for his shopping site.
Mr. Han also claimed he had rented his house to open a legitimate business.
“I rented the house to operate a tour agency,” he said during the trial.
Pheng Heng, Mr. Han’s defense lawyer, said on Friday that police had mingled evidence from the two houses before submitting it to the court, casting doubt on the verdict.
“I think their guilt is not clear yet,” Mr. Heng said. “The court did not clearly separate evidence based on who the objects belonged to.”