Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday began the trial of a former police officer and his four accomplices over two robberies in the capital in March.
Judge Theam Chanpiseth identified the five accused as Lon Sivtheng, 32, an ex-police officer with the municipal intervention police department, and three men who posed as police officers, including Peng Yuthnea, 35; Kong Sovann, 36; and Suon Sereyvichetr, 34. The fifth accused is Heang Sreydeth, 28, the wife of Mr Yuthnea.
Judge Chanpiseth said that among the five accused, Mr Sivtheng, Mr Yuthnea, Mr Sovann, and Mr Sereyvichetr were charged with “thefts with aggravating circumstances and unauthorised weapon possession” and face five to eight years behind bars if convicted. Ms Sreydeth was charged with being an accomplice.
Judge Chanpiseth added that they were all arrested by penal police on March 14 in the city before detailing a number of their alleged crimes.
Judge Chanpiseth noted that at about 2am on March 3 this year, the five accused drove three motorbikes to chase two youths on a Zoomer X motorbike in Meanchey district’s Boeng Tumpon commune.
“During the robbery, they pretended they were police and needed to pull over the youth to inspect their motorbike,” he said. “But after stopping the victims, Mr Yuthnea took a pistol from his waist and pointed it at them, threatened them and ordered them to hand over the motorbike and the key.”
“The victim gave over the key and fled from the scene, and then Mr Sivtheng took the victim’s motorbike and fled,” he added.
Judge Chanpiseth noted that after stealing the motorbike from the victims, Ms Sreydeth took the stolen motorbike to pawn at a motorbike shop for $900 the following morning. The money was then shared between the accused.
Judge Chanpiseth said the group again struck on March 6, when it stole money from the owner of an internet shop in Tuol Kork district’s Boeng Salang commune. He noted that the accused made off with about $250 and a platinum ring worth about $100.
He added that they were later arrested at different places in city on March 14 based on photos of them recorded by security cameras at the internet shop. After the arrests, police seized two motorbikes and two pistols from them.
They also recovered the stolen Zoomer X motorbike after the accused led them to the pawn shop.
During yesterday’s hearing, Mr Sivtheng, Mr Yuthnea, Mr Sovann, and Mr Sereyvichetr admitted committing the offences, saying that they robbed the victims because they did not have any money to pay for their rent or purchase food.
They all requested the court to reduce their sentences.
Mr Sivtheng told the court that he became a thief because he did not have money to purchase food because his police salary was so small.
“I accept that I have committed the offence as the court has accused me. I regret my mistake,” he said. “I would like to ask the court to reduce my sentence.”
Ms Sreydeth denied the allegations. She said that she did not know the motorbike was stolen, nor did she accompany the men during their robberies. She requested her charges be dropped.
A verdict is due on October 28.