Four men, including a former police officer, went on trial yesterday over a robbery in which a young woman was shot and her motorbike stolen.
Ex-policeman Men Rath, 34, along with former soldier Ork Sarom, 28, En Chandaroth, 24, and motorbike pawn shop owner Phan Sophath, 24, appeared in Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Mr Sarom, Mr Rath and Mr Chandarath were charged with theft with aggravating circumstances and with unauthorised holding of a weapon. All face up to eight years in jail if convicted.
Mr Sophath was charged with receiving stolen goods and could be jailed for a year. They were arrested on November 16.
Presiding Judge Nou Veasna said that on the night of November 13, Mr Sarom, Mr Rath and Mr Chandarath drove a motorbike to steal another motorbike in front of the Bak Touk High School in O’Russey commune.
As they waited, the victim Meng Vouchna, 22, drove up alone on her Scoopy motorbike.
“Seeing the victim’s motorbike, the accused Ork Sarom pulled a pistol from his waist and pointed it at the victim,” Judge Veasna said. “He fired one bullet at the victim and caused serious injuries. Mr Rath and Mr Chandaroth looked out for police.”
Ms Vouchna abandoned her motorbike and fled in terror, the judge noted.
Mr Sarom picked up her motorbike and drove off. He took the motorbike to sell to Mr Sophath the same night. They all were later arrested after the victim found her motorbike at Mr Sophath’s shop.
In court yesterday, Mr Sarom, Mr Rath and Mr Chandaroth admitted their involvement in the robbery.
They confessed that they were casino gamblers and had stolen the motorbike because they had run out of money. They asked the judge to reduce their sentences.
Mr Sarom said he drove the stolen motorbike to sell to Mr Sophath for $800.
He met Mr Rath and Mr Chandaroth and divided the money. He got $400. Mr Rath and Mr Chandaroth got $200 each.
“I accept that I have committed the offence I am accused of. I very much regret my mistake. I would like to ask the court to reduce my sentence,” he said.
Mr Sophath denied the allegations. He said that he did not know that the motorbike was stolen. If he had known, he would not have bought it. A verdict is due June 19.