Three Suspects, Two Still at Large, Tried in Chinese Woman’s Killing

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court tried three men Monday over the brutal murder of a Chinese businesswoman who was found dead on May 3 in the small hat-making factory she ran out of her home in Pur Senchey district.

Soy Huong, 23, confessed in court to being involved in the murder of Li Zhang, 43, but said his two co-defendants, Soy Sophea, 21, and Yim Vantha, 38, who remain at large, carried out the attack.

“I am not a killer,” Mr. Huong said. “I stood outside the building and saw all the activities. I saw them beat a woman. I did not go inside.”

Mr. Huong said he joined the other men because Mr. Sophea, who had recently been fired from the factory, owed him money that he hoped to get back.

“I hoped he would pay me back after he got money from his boss,” Mr. Huong said of Mr. Sophea, whom he referred to as Phea throughout Monday’s hearing.

According to a police report read out in court, Mr. Sophea decided to break into the factory in Choam Chao commune after being fired by Li Zhang for stealing about $107 from a desk at the factory.

Mr. Huong said it took Mr. Sophea only a few hours to plot his revenge. “She fired him at around 1 p.m. and we went to her house at 6:20 p.m.,” he said, adding that the third defendant, Mr. Vantha, was the first to attack Li Zhang upon entering the building.

“The woman was writing at her desk and Vantha threw her to the floor,” Mr. Huong said, adding that Mr. Vantha then set upon the victim with an electric baton and a pair of scissors.

“Vantha held her mouth shut, then shocked and stabbed her,” he said. “Phea was holding a razor blade and slit her neck.”

Mr. Huong said he helped move Li Zhang’s body and lock up the building.

Deputy prosecutor Va Sakada on Monday recommended that Mr. Huong and his co-defendants be charged with premeditated murder, punishable by life in prison.

A verdict is due Thursday.

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