PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Five men appeared in Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged with stealing a motorcycle, but they each said police had forced them to confess. They were Seng Naroth, Puth Sothy, Tim Vanna, Be Sophea David and Som Bernard.
Police said a woman was sitting on her motorcycle talking on her phone in front of Hei Sana guesthouse in Chamkar Mon district on April 4. The court heard the five stopped in front of her and ordered her off her bike. When she refused, one of the men – identified in court as Mr. Bernard – took out a pistol and hit on the head, causing a gash that started bleeding.
She ran into the guesthouse, where she worked. The court heard Mr. Bernard took the motorcycle and rode off with his four friends.
He told Judge Heng Kesrau he rejected the police report and denied any wrongdoing. He said he confessed to avoid being beaten by police.
He said he was arrested for no reason and was not allowed to read his confession, so the story had been invented by police.
He said he had been arrested in Tuol Kork district while riding his motorcycle to play ‘Fishing Game ’on a slot machine in a secret place.
When Judge Kesrau showed Mr. Bernard a picture in which he held a pistol, he said the police had fabricated it and that he did not even know how to use a gun.
When prosecutor Sieng Sok asked Mr. Bernard and the other accused if they knew each other, they said they did not. Each of the other four men also said they had confessed only to avoid being beaten.
Mr. Sothy told the court he was arrested in Chamkar Mon district while playing ‘Fishing Game’ with friends. All five men denied any involvement in any crime.
The judge pointed out Mr. Sothy had committed two other motorbike robberies and had been on trial just two days earlier for the same offense. The hearing will resume on October 2.