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Court upholds fraud conviction

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
Kheam Rotha leaves the Appeal Court. KT/Pann Rachana

The Appeal Court yesterday upheld the sentencing of a woman jailed for 18 years for defrauding 16 people whom she had rented vehicles from.

Presiding Judge Chan Marina identified her as Kheam Rotha, a 35-year-old widow who worked as a land broker and lived in a rental house in Por Senchey district’s Choam Chao I commune.

Judge Marina said Ms Rotha was charged with fraud with aggravating circumstances after she was arrested on April 14 by military police in Kandal province.

She was sentenced to 18 years in jail by Phnom Penh Municipal Court in January.

“Based on [Ms Rotha’s] confession during her trial [on July 15] and the victim’s answers regarding Ms Rotha […], the judges’ council at the Appeal Court understands that the judgement of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court dated January 29 was right and was made in accordance with the laws,” Judge Marina said.

“Therefore, the judges’ council at the Appeal Court has decided to uphold the ruling of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court as effective,” she added.

According to court documents, between 2016 and 2018, Ms Rotha hired a total of 42 cars from 16 different people for $500 to $1,000 per month for each car, which she used for personal and business matters.

Ms Rotha would rent out some of the cars to other people for a price of $600 to $1,500 per month, making a profit on each transaction.

She would take the other cars to pawn at garages in Phnom Penh and other provinces to make more money.

Military police in Kandal province arrested Ms Rotha on April 14, 2018 following 16 complaints filed against her by the owners of the 42 cars.

Military police found and seized 34 cars from pawn shops in Phnom Penh and Kandal province, with the remaining eight still missing.

On January 29, Ms Rotha was convicted and sentenced by Phnom Penh Municipal Court to 18 years in jail. The court also ordered her to pay $116,200 in damages to the plaintiffs.

She then appealed the lower court’s decision to the Appeal Court for a reduced sentence.

Outside of the court yesterday, Ms Rotha said she did not agree with the ruling, noting that she will appeal it to the Supreme Court.

“The Appeal Court did not reduce my sentence as I have begged them to,” she said. “I will appeal it to the Supreme Court.”

“I would like to request the Supreme Court to reduce my sentence to the minimum punishment of three years so that I can be released and earn money to pay back the victims as the [municipal] court has ordered,” she said.

During her trial last month, Ms Rotha admitted committing the offence, saying that she rented out the cars she had hired from the victims for a monthly profit of $100 to $500 per car.

Ms Rotha also told the court that those who had hired the cars from her had cheated her and took the cars to pawn at garages before fleeing.

“I did not intend to cheat the victims,” she said. “However, I will take responsibility for the damages and the cars lost.”

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