Eight men from two rival gangs went on trial yesterday at Phnom Penh Municipal Court after a fight using swords and pieces of wood ended with one man dead and another seriously injured last year.
The fight broke out late at night on December 25 at a dance party in Sen Sok district’s Khmuonh commune on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Presiding Judge San Sophath said one group of gang members lived in Sen Sok 5 village. They were: Sim Hoey, 33, Kheng Chantha, 37, Leng Sophous, 32, Chan Danou, 22, and Chan Vanneth, 25.
The other gang members were: Prak Socheath, 15, Nong Dara, 17, and Chan Danath, 15, who lived in Sen Sok 4 village.
All were charged with intentional murder and face up to 15 years each in prison if convicted, the judge said.
Judge Sophath said that on the night of the brawl, one group of about ten gang members and another with seven members attended a dance party organised by villagers to celebrate Christmas.
The groups got into an argument over a girl and started a fist fight at the venue. Other people at the dance stopped the fight and separated the gangs. The first group of gang members then left.
Judge Sophath said that at about 11pm that night, the first group of gang members, who were carrying swords, sticks and pieces of steel, returned. They then challenged the second group to fight.
“At first, they started throwing stones at each other,” he said. “After throwing the stones, they started beating and chopping each other with the swords, the sticks and the pieces of steel. They fought each other like in a Chinese movie.”
“After the fighting, they all fled,” he added. “Only the ones who were injured remained.”
Heng Dara, 21, a member of the second gang, died after sustaining serious injuries, the judge noted. A 19-year-old member of the first gang was seriously injured.
Judge Sophath said the ten were arrested by district police on December 26 and 27 in Sen Sok village. Police confiscated swords and sticks from them.
At yesterday’s trial, Him Hoey, Chan Vanneth, Prak Socheath, Nong Dara and Chan Danath admitted that they took part in the fighting. They said they used only sticks to fight and defend themselves.
They did not kill the victim and did not know who did because there were many people in the fight, they said.
Kheng Chantha, Leng Sophous, and Chan Danou denied the allegations. They said that they were not present and did not take part in the fighting.
They said they were at home that night and asked the court to drop the charges and release them from prison.
“I did not know about or have anything to do with the case,” Mr Sophous said. “I was staying with my wife at home when the fight happened. I am innocent. Please drop the charge and release me.”
Bun Heng, 55, the father of the dead man, said his son was a good man who never argued with other people in the village.
“To find justice for my son, I would like to ask the judge to punish the accused under the law,” he said.
Mr Heng also demanded 60 million riel ($15,000) in compensations from the accused.
A verdict is due on June 14.