Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a woman to 18 years in prison and ordered her to pay a total of $116,200 to the plaintiffs after she was found guilty of fraud.
Judge Seng Leang identified the accused as Kheam Rotha, 35, a land broker living at a rental house in Por Senchey district’s Chom Chao I commune.
“Based on the trial and the accused’s confessions, the court has found her guilty,” he said. “Therefore, the court has decided to convict her and sentence her to 18 months in prison and orders her to pay a total of $116,200 to the plaintiffs in this case.”
Judge Leang said that Ms Rotha was charged with fraud with aggravating circumstance and was arrested on May 14 by military police in Kandal province.
He advised Ms Rotha to appeal against the sentence at the Appeal Court if she did not agree with it.
After the verdict, Ms Rotha said that she would not file an appeal.
“I think that although my sentence is heavy, I accept it and will not appeal it to Appeal Court,” she said. “But after I have paid the money to the plaintiffs I will request the court to reduce my sentence to two years and suspend the rest.
According to a military police report, between 2016 and last year Ms Rotha rented a total of 42 cars from 16 different owners, paying them between $500 and $1,000 per month.
It said that after getting the cars, she re-rented some of them out for between $600 and $1,500 per month, and pawned the other cars at garages in Phnom Penh and outlying provinces.
After Ms Rotha was arrested on May 14 military police recovered 34 cars from garages in Phnom Penh and Kandal province. Eight other cars are still missing.
During her trial on January 16, Ms Rotha admitted committing the offence and promised to compensate all 16 car owners.
“I re-rented out some of cars to other people to make money,” she told court. “But they cheated me and pawned the vehicles at garages and fled.”
“I did not have any intention to cheat the car owners,” Ms Rotha added.
The 16 plaintiffs did not attend yesterday’s court hearing and could not be contacted for comments.