Three Men Receive 15-years Jail for Holding Boy to Ransom

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced three men to 15 years in jail for attempting to extract $4,000 ransom for a 5-year-old boy they kidnapped and illegally detained in November 2009.

Judge Duch Kimsan said the three men–Mam Sophoan, 20, Phat Varak, 19, and Kim Hourn, 25–were convicted under Article 22 of the human trafficking law, where “aggravating circumstances,” such as attempting to hold a kidnapped person to ransom, can attract a life sentence.

“The court decided to convict three men…to 15 years in prison for illegal confinement and kidnapping,” Judge Kimsan said.

The three men were arrested in November 2009 in Kratie province’s Snuol district, where they were found with the younger brother of Mr Sophoan’s ex-girlfriend. At the time of the arrest, police claimed that Mr Sophoan was angry with his former partner for breaking up with him.

At last month’s trial, Mr Sophoan denied having kidnapped the boy–claiming he had only wanted to take the boy to visit his homeland–but his denials were contradicted by his co-accused, who claimed he had phoned the boy’s father and agreed to exchange him for $4,000.

During the trial, a statement from the boy’s father, Keo Vuthy, also confirmed that Mr Sophoan had demanded $4,000 for his son.

The three convicted men’s lawyer, Ouk Vandeth, yesterday criticized the court’s decision to convict his clients, maintaining that no proof had been offered to show that they had either illegally detained the boy or demanded money for his return.

Moreover, Mr Vandeth claimed, his client Mr Varak was only 13 years old at the time of his arrest last year, so he should not have been given the same punishment as his co-accused.

“I cannot accept the court’s decision, and the court did not provide justice for my clients,” Mr Vandeth said. “I will appeal.”

 

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