Trio Gets Life in Prison For Killing Businesswoman

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday sentenced three men, two in absentia, to life in prison for the brutal murder of a Chinese businesswoman on May 2 at the small hat-making factory she ran out of her home in Pur Senchey district.

During a trial on Monday, Soy Huong, 23, confessed to being involved in the murder of Li Zhang, 43, by keeping watch while the woman was killed and helping to dispose of her body.

But Mr. Huong said his two co-defendants, Soy Sophea, 21, and Yim Vantha, 38, who remain at large, carried out the attack.

“[Li Zhang] was writing at her desk and Vantha threw her to the floor,” Mr. Huong said during the hearing. “Vantha held her mouth shut, then shocked and stabbed her…. Phea was holding a razor blade and slit her neck.”

Presiding Judge Chhun Heng said Thursday that all three men were guilty of premeditated murder under Article 200 of the Criminal Code.

“Soy Huong, 23, imprisoned for life,” Judge Heng announced. “Soy Sophea, 21, imprisoned for life. Yim Vantha, 38, imprisoned for life.”

Judge Heng added that he had issued arrest warrants for Mr. Sophea and Mr. Vantha.

According to a police report read out during the trial Monday, Mr. Sophea broke into Li Zhang’s home in Choam Chao commune just five hours after she fired him for stealing about $107 from a desk at the factory—seeking revenge.

After killing Li Zhang, the three men made off with about $50 and a laptop, the report says. Mr. Sophea gave the laptop to Mr. Huong to pay back a debt, according to Mr. Huong’s testimony.

District police chief Yim Sarann said his department was continuing to search for Mr. Huong’s accomplices.

“I will look for them until I arrest them,” he vowed.

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