Two Get Life For Siem Reap School Siege

Two of eight men implicated in the botched hostage-taking at a Siem Reap province school in June that left a Canadian toddler dead were sentenced to life in prison on Friday.

Ringleader Chea Sokhom, 20, who admitted he plotted to kidnap his Korean employer’s children for ransom, was sentenced by the Siem Reap Provincial Court to life for killing Maxim Michalik, 2, at the Siem Reap International School on June 16.

His cousin, Un Ny, was also sentenced to life in prison for supplying the handgun used in the hostage-taking and promising to help the fer­ry the men to Thailand after the crime.

Colleagues Chim Chem, 18, Vann Touch Sopheak, 22, and Sim Thol, 18, were each sentenced to 20 years in prison. Ouk Samnang, whom police said knew of the plot but did nothing to stop it, was also sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiracy.

Former military police officer Loek Soeun, 34, and military police officer Mam Chandara, 45, were sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay about $250 in fines for being the original sources of the weapon.

“Chea Sokhom was the active member and the mastermind,” Pres­iding Judge Plang Chhlam said in his verdict. “He shot the child.”

Earlier in the day, Chea Sokhom de­nied shooting the boy, and plac­ed the blame with the police, who the court were told had opened fire at various times to try to distract the hostage-takers and allow for a rescue attempt.

“I did not point the gun at the head of the child,” Chea Sokhom said. “They shot AK-47s from the outside and hit the child.”

An autopsy report presented to the court stated that the child’s wound and gunpowder residue found on his body indicated the shot came from “a very close range,” though it was not possible to determine the bullet’s caliber.

In an interview, a court clerk who refused to be named and refused to show the report said the autopsy was performed in Slovakia, where Maxim’s parents are from.





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