A Spanish man was on Wednesday convicted of murdering a British tourist at a rental house in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district last year and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Ricardo Perez Blundell, 40, was arrested on August 11, 2013, after the owner of the house on Street 63 noticed a rancid smell emanating from the Spaniard’s room and contacted police.
Inside the room, officers found the decomposing body of John Connell, 43, who had been vacationing in Cambodia, underneath a mat and a tarpaulin.
According to a police report obtained in the days following the grisly discovery, the two men were known drug users who began sharing the room in Phsar Thmei III commune after becoming friends in July last year.
In court Wednesday morning, Presiding Judge Chuon Soreasey convicted Mr. Blundell of murdering his friend and sentenced him to ten years in jail.
Judge Soreasey said the court’s decision came after “listening to the answers from the witnesses and police, viewing evidence, including documents, and hearing the conclusion from the deputy prosecutor and the suspect’s lawyers.”
Contacted by telephone after the hearing, the judge said John Connell’s corpse was inside the room for 26 days before it was discovered. He did not elaborate on the suspected method used to kill the British man, but said the court had sufficient evidence to convict the suspect.
Outside the courtroom, Mr. Blundell denied killing his former roommate, saying there was “no evidence” to prove he was a murderer.
“I am shocked, because I have not killed anybody. I don’t believe the verdict. I don’t know what to say,” he said, adding that he would appeal the verdict.
Mr. Blundell’s defense lawyer, Kim Mengkhy, said by telephone that the victim died after consuming too much alcohol.
“Before he died, he had drunk too much liquor,” he said. “He might have died of a heart attack. He died sitting on a chair.”
Mr. Mengkhy said that his client only realized the victim was dead the following day but was afraid to report the death to police because he had lost his passport and feared they would accuse him of being in the country illegally.