A man who survived an attack by a mob of about 400 Phnom Penh residents was sentenced to six years in prison by the municipal court on Thursday for stealing a motorbike, a court official said.
Sok Siet, 27, was attacked in March by a mob of Dangkao district residents who wrested him from police custody after he tried to steal the motorbike.
Two other men were killed when the crowd bludgeoned them with bamboo poles and steel bars. Mr Siet was left for dead and only regained consciousness as he was about to be cremated at a local pagoda.
Mr Siet was arrested on March 25 after he and the two deceased men took the motorbike from sisters Nak Channa, 26, and Nak Channy, 24, in Kandal province’s Ang Snoul district.
During the hearing, Mr Siet denied trying to steal the bike.
“I did not do the case, and I was just a motor-taxi driver,” he said in court.
Mr Siet’s lawyer, who declined to be named for fear of reprisals, said she did not know if her client would appeal.
“I am not sure to appeal or not because I have not yet discussed with my client,” she said by telephone yesterday.
Chan Soveth, senior monitor at local rights group Adhoc, said he felt Mr Siet had received such a harsh sentence because of the high-profile nature of the case due to the mob incident.
Mr Soveth also called on police to keep investigating the mob attack.
“Police must be investigating because it is a criminal case and must be sent to the court,” he said.
On March 29, Dangkao District Police Chief Born Sam Ath said police would not investigate the killings, as it would lead to unrest among locals, even though online news outlets published a photograph that allegedly identified villagers beating the three men.
However, Deputy District Police Chief Choup Sok Heng said yesterday that police were looking into the mobbing but had not yet discovered the killers.
“We are investigating the case, but we find it difficult to identify the real perpetrators among 400 or 500 villagers,” he said.