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Two Japanese men tried over murder of Khmer taxi driver

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
Police escort the two accused Japanese nationals to court yesterday. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Siem Reap city, Siem Reap province – Siem Reap Provincial Court yesterday tried two Japanese nationals accused of killing a taxi driver and stealing his vehicle in Puok district.

In March, the court charged Ishida Reimon and Nakakuri Ryuji, both 24, with premeditated murder over the killing of Hoem Chan, 41, while they robbed him of his taxi.

On March 17, provincial police arrested them shortly after they used a knife to kill the victim in Puok district and drove off in his taxi. Police arrested them after the vehicle crashed shortly afterwards.

In March, Brigadier General Phoeung Chendareth, provincial deputy police chief who led the investigation, said the two accused arrived in Thailand on March 12, and after staying there for four days, crossed the border into Poipet city on March 16 before heading to Siem Reap city.

He said that on March 17, both of them searched for an SUV to steal and hired the victim for $30 to drive them to visit Angkor Wat and other tourist sites.

Brig Gen Chendareth said that at about 5pm, they asked the taxi driver to take them to a market in Puok district and asked him to stop at a quiet spot.

Sok Chanroeun, the victim’s wife, speaks to reporters outside the courthouse yesterday. KT/Chor Sokunthea

He noted that the men then grabbed Mr Chan and a scuffle ensued during which Mr Nakakuri allegedly slashed the victim on the throat and killed him.

Brig Gen Chendareth said both men then allegedly dumped the body on the road and drove off in the taxi.

He noted that the murder was witnessed by a passing motorist who alerted police.

Brig Gen Chendareth said that Mr Ishida drove the victim’s SUV toward Siem Reap city, but lost control of the vehicle after about 300 metres and hit a villager’s truck.

He added that police officers on motorbikes who went to investigate the murder saw the two men fleeing from the taxi on foot and caught them.

Mr Nakakuri told the court yesterday that he killed the victim while trying to steal the taxi.

“I did it because I wanted that car for my own use,” he told the court. “I did not intend to kill him but I accidentally used excessive force.”

Mr Nakakuri said that Mr Ishida was not involved in the killing.

He noted that he owed someone some money in Japan and came to Cambodia find work to repay the debt.

Mr Nakakuri said that while they were in Puok district, both he and Mr Ishida asked Mr Chan to stop the SUV because they wanted to go to the toilet.

“I then took out a knife from my bag, pointed it at the victim’s neck and told him to hand over the taxi,” he told the court.

Mr Ishida told the court yesterday that he was outside while Mr Nakakuri was committing the crime.

He admitted that both he and Mr Nakakuri had planned to steal the taxi from the victim.

“I knew this action is illegal but I wanted some money too,” Mr Ishida told the court.

He noted that in Japan, he worked as a driver in a transport company and resigned from his job to travel and came to the Kingdom with Mr Nakakuri.

Deputy prosecutor Chuon Sok Panha yesterday told the court that both accused had planned to rob and kill a taxi driver because they had discussed it and Mr Nakakuri had a knife in his bag before they committed the crime.

“This is premeditated murder, so I ask the judges, please sentence them according to the charge of premeditated murder,” he urged the court.

Theng Chamroeun, the lawyer for the two accused, yesterday said that based on Mr Nakakuri’s confession, his clients did not intend to kill the victim.

“Please judges change the charge against them from premeditated murder to unintentional murder because they did not intend to kill the victim,” he urged the court.

Sok Chanroeun, Mr Chan’s wife who was present at the trial yesterday, said later that she requested the court to sentence them according to the law and find justice for the family.

“I will still demand $100,000 in compensation from them,” she said. “I think that they intended to rob and kill my husband because they had discussed the plan before killing him.”

Presiding Judge Um Chanthol yesterday said the hearing had been concluded and a date would be fixed for a verdict.

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