The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the convictions of four men, including a former commune chief, 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.
“Based on the hearing and after clear consideration by the Supreme Court, the judgement of the Appeal Court in 2016 was right and was made in accordance with the laws,” said Judge Phanhavuth. “Therefore, the Supreme Court has decided to uphold it.”
According to the police report, Mr Nop was the mastermind behind the attack and Mr Bunthoeun hired Mr Samrith and Mr Dalin to carry it out.
During their Supreme Court hearings, the four men admitted to their roles in the murder plot while seeking a reduction in their sentences, which was denied by the court.
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.
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 dinner.
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 confessed that in early 2014, he had an argument with Mr Sin, who was a commune council member, over the commune chief position.
“The reason why I wanted to kill Mr Sorn Sin is because I was very angry at him for contesting the chief position,” Mr Nop said. “He lost to me, but accused me of buying votes, and he also accused me of bribing the municipal election commission to win.”
“On the other hand, he also threatened to kill me,” he added. “He had prepared a plot to kill.”