The Supreme Court yesterday heard the appeal of four men, including a former commune chief, who were convicted over their involvement in a 2014 grenade attack in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district that killed a young boy and injured five others.
The attack took place on October 9, 2014 at about 7pm at the intended victim’s house in Khmuonh commune’s Sen Sok II village.
Soeng Phanhavuth, presiding judge at the Supreme Court, identified the four accused as Phy Nop, 49, former chief of Kok Roka commune; Pov Bunthoeun, 37; Nuon Samrith, 31; and Eng Dalin, 31.
He said Mr Nop was convicted of initiating premeditated murder while Mr Bunthoeun, Mr Samrith and Mr Dalin were charged with conspiracy to premeditated murder.
Mr Nop, Mr Bunthoeun and Mr Samrith were arrested in December 2014 while Mr Dalin was arrested in April 2015.
Judge Phanhavuth said Mr Nop, the mastermind of the assassination plot, was convicted by the municipal court in July 2015 and handed a life sentence. The court also ordered him to pay about $184,000 in compensation to the victims. The other three accused were each sentenced to 30 years in prison.
He added that they appealed the verdict, but it was upheld by the Appeal Court in 2016.
According to a police report, Mr Nop was the mastermind behind the attack and Mr Bunthoeun hired Mr Samrith and Mr Dalin to carry it out.
During yesterday’s trial, Mr Bunthoeun, Mr Samrith and Mr Dalin, admitted their mistakes.
They confessed that they were hired by Mr Nop to kill real estate broker Sorn Sin, who was Mr Nop’s enemy. Mr Nop promised them from $2,500 to $10,000 each to kill Mr Sin.
They said they filed an appeal to the Supreme Court because their sentences were too harsh and requested the court to reduce their punishment.
Mr Samrith confessed that he was hired by Mr Buntheoun for $5,000 to kill Mr Sin. To prepare the plot, Mr Bunthoeun gave him $400 in advance to buy a motorbike and pay for other expenses.
Mr Samrith said that to make it easier to kill Mr Sin, he contacted his friend Mr Dalin and told him about the plot. Mr Dalin agreed and Mr Bunthoeun gave him a grenade and taught him how to use it.
“I was hired by Pov Buntheoun to kill the victim, but I did not know the victim and never had any argument with him before,” he said. “Pov Bunthoeun hired me to kill him and promised to give me $5,000. I accepted this job because I was poor and I needed the money to support my family.”
Mr Samrith said Mr Dalin drove the motorbike and he threw the grenade into the front courtyard of the victim’s home while they were eating diner.
Mr Samrith added that after carrying out the plan, Mr Bunthoeun only paid $2,500 because Mr Samrith had missed the target. Mr Sin was not killed.
Instead, Mr Sin’s 11-year-old son, Sin Dara, sustained extensive injuries and later died at Kantha Bopha hospital. Mr Bunthoeun said that he met Mr Nop, the former Kok Roka commune chief, in 2007.
He was later appointed by Mr Nop as chief of Andoung 6 village and as president of the Andoung 6 community in Kok Roka commune.
He said that in early 2014, he was asked by Mr Nop to find someone to kill Mr Sin, with whom he had been in an argument.
Mr Nop promised to pay him $10,000 for the killing. Mr Bunthoeun then contacted Mr Samrith, a gangster living in his village, and hired him for $5,000 to carry out the plan.
Mr Nop did not attend the trial yesterday due to illness.
The verdict is due on Wednesday.