Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday convicted and sentenced three people to prison over the murder and robbery of a garment worker whose body was thrown into a canal last year.
Presiding Judge Ros Samedy identified them as Sok Heng, alias Eth Chay, a 31-year-old scavenger, Keo Sophaneth, a 28-year-old bread seller, and his wife 31-year-old Ath Oeun. They all lived in a rented home in Stung Meanchey commune’s Trea Pi village.
Judge Samedy said Mr Heng and Mr Sophaneth were both sentenced to life in prison, while Ms Oeun was given a 30-year sentence.
“The court has decided to sentence Sok Heng and Keo Sophaneth to life, and Ath Oeun to 30 years in prison,” he said. “If you do not agree with your sentence, each of you have the right to appeal within one month.”
Judge Samedy said that they were charged with premeditated murder in June last year over the murder of Khnoey Soeng, a 31-year-old garment worker who worked and lived in Stung Meanchey commune.
Colonel Cheav Vibol, chief of the Interior Ministry’s penal department, yesterday in court said the three convicts sold bread near a garment factory where the victim worked.
Col Vibol said months before the murder, the three took out loans ranging from $20 to $50 from the victim in order to improve their bread business.
He said after noticing that the victim had jewellery and an expensive motorbike, the three plotted to kill and rob the victim.
At about 2pm on June 19, the three set their plan in motion. Ms Oeun persuaded the victim to come pick up her money at her home in Trea Pi village.
Col Vibol said the victim complied and took her motorbike to meet Ms Oeun at her home.
“As the victim entered the home, Keo Sophaneth and Eth Chay, who were hiding, came out, held the victim and tied her legs and hands with electric wires,” he said. “Ms Oeun then took a wire to strangle the victim, causing her to die at the scene.”
“After killing the victim, they wrapped her body in a blanket and hid her body in the room,” he added. “At night, they placed the victim’s body into a bread basket and used the victim’s motorcycle to transport the body to a canal where she was dumped.”
Col Vibol noted after the victim’s body was dumped, the three stole her bike, phone, money and jewellery before fleeing the village.
The three then proceeded to pawn the motorbike at a shop in Tuol Kork district for $550. They then fled Phnom Penh to Prey Veng province’s Mesang district, where officers from the Interior Ministry’s penal department arrested them on June 29.
On the same day, the three were arrested, they re-enacted the victim’s murder in front of police and then led officers to the victim’s body the following day. On July 1, they were all charged with premeditated murder.
Outside of the courtroom yesterday, the three said their sentences were too heavy and that they will file an appeal to have them reduced.
During their trial on May 15, the three admitted killing the victim.
“I killed her because I owed her money,” Ms Oeun said. “I did not have the money to repay her and pay for rent.”