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Tuk-tuk driver tried for stealing from drunk cop

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried two brothers over the theft of $10,000 and three phones from a police officer who was sleeping in his car while drunk in Chamkar Mon district.

Presiding Judge Thlang Phaneth identified the accused as Kong Sopha, 35, a tuk-tuk taxi driver living in Tuol Kork district, and Kong Sothary, 33, a phone vendor living in Sen Sok district.

Judge Phaneth said Mr Sopha was charged with theft with aggravating circumstances and faces up to ten years in jail if convicted, while Mr Sothary was charged with receiving stolen goods and faces up two years in jail.

She said that at about 1pm on May 29, Ngeth Sothea, 48, a police officer, drove home from a nightclub and stopped his car outside the gates of his house in Chamkar Mon district, where he fell asleep while drunk.

“While the victim was sleeping inside the car, Mr Sopha, who followed him from the nightclub in his tuk-tuk, entered the car and stole $10,000, three phones, and two ATM cards,” she said. “After stealing the items, the accused took the phones and sold them to his younger brother Mr Sophary, who was a phone vendor.”

Judge Phaneth noted that the theft was recorded by CCTV at the victim’s house and Mr Sopha was arrested by police at about 2pm the next day. She said that after his arrest police seized $7,000 from him.

Judge Phaneth said that based on Mr Sopha’s confession, police later arrested his brother at his phone shop and recovered the stolen phones.

The $7,000, which was all that remained from the stolen money, and the phones were returned to Mr Sothea.

During yesterday’s trial, Mr Sopha admitted committing the offence and confessed that before his arrest, he stole items from drunken men on eight occasions.

He told the court that he usually followed his victims in his tuk-tuk when they drove their cars or motorbikes home and looted their properties, especially their phones.

“After stealing their phones, I took them to sell to phone vendors in the capital,” Mr Sopha said. “I knew that my activities were illegal but it became a habit for me.”

He requested the judges’ council to give him a light sentence.

Mr Sothary yesterday denied the allegations, and told the court that he only bought the phones from Mr Sopha because he was selling them cheap.

He said that each phone cost more than $500 and Mr Sopha sold them to him for only $100 each.

“I did not know that the phones I bought from my elder brother were stolen goods,” Mr Sothary said. “If I had known I would not have bought them from him.”

He requested the judges’ council to drop the charge against him and release him from prison.

A verdict is due on December 28.

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