The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday sentenced three men of six suspects to prison terms for their role in the September 15 clashes on Monivong Bridge between police and stone throwing youths, during which a man was killed and several were wounded by police gunfire.
Announcing the sentences, Judge Seng Neang said the three defendants were found guilty of intentional violence with aggravating circumstances and the intention to cause damage with aggravating circumstances.
However, Judge Neang commuted the sentences of two of the three convicts to time served and acquitted three other defendants also present in court, meaning that only one man, who is ethnic Vietnamese, will serve time in prison.
“The court has decided to sentence Nguyen Ti Tek, 20, to three years in prison, but he will only serve one year, with the remainder of his sentence under probation,” Judge Neang said.
“Lanh Samoeun, 19, and Va Noeun, 40, are sentenced to three years in prison, but only served 37 days of pre-trial detention before they were bailed on October 22, so the remainder of their sentences are under probation,” the judge added.
“The court has decided to acquit the charges of three people who were accused of violence toward police officers near Monivong Bridge. Ek Channou, 17, Taing Chung Seng, 19, and Sung Nisai, 21, are acquitted of the charges.”
Yin Savath, the lawyer representing all six defendants, said he was disappointed with the verdict and claimed that his clients were not involved in the clashes on the bridge that night. Mr. Savath said that he would discuss with his clients whether to appeal the sentences.
The clashes, which resulted in police shooting dead bystander Mao Sok Chan, occurred at the end of the first of a three-day planned protest by the opposition CNRP over the outcome of July’s election.
After the Monivong Bridge was blocked by police barricades causing massive traffic jams, running skirmishes between stone-throwing youths and heavily armed riot and military police broke out.
In addition to the death of Mao Sok Chan, who was shot in the head, several other people were injured by police bullets.
Police have claimed that they conducted an investigation into the shootings by their officers but the result has not been made public.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for local rights group Licadho, said he believed that three innocent people were paying for crimes they did not commit. “We have seen [security] forces and military police who have shot and killed and injured people, who have never been prosecuted. This shows that Cambodia remains a place of impunity with a culture of violence,” he said.