The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday sentenced a young man to life in prison for fatally stabbing female Defense Ministry official Ly Davy in broad daylight in June.
Mey Kimheng was convicted of premeditated murder over the killing of the 36-year-old Royal Cambodian Armed Forces major as she was walking alone near a market in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district.
Mey Kimheng, center, leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday after being sentenced to life in prison for killing a Defense Ministry official in June. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)Following his arrest, Mr. Kimheng, who was a 21-year-old freshman at the Royal University of Phnom Penh at the time, was charged with premeditated murder, but in October the charge was downgraded to murder, which carries a 15-year maximum prison sentence.
On Wednesday, Presiding Judge Chea Sokchandeth reverted the charge to premeditated murder and sentenced Mr. Kimheng to life imprisonment, without explaining his decision. The defendant was also ordered to pay the victim’s family 80 million riel, or about $20,000, in compensation.
The defendant’s lawyer, Chun Veasna, said he was considering an appeal, but declined to comment further.
Mr. Kimheng stabbed Ly Davy, who worked in the ministry’s military service department, repeatedly in the chest with a kitchen knife on the morning of June 21 near Depot Market in Tuol Kok, according to a police account at the time.
The accused had been wearing a helmet and fled the scene on a motorbike.
The victim’s aunt, Ly Silen, 56, said on Wednesday that she had sent a letter to the Justice Ministry earlier this month about the downgraded murder charge.
“As I listened during the hearing, I found everything had changed,” Ms. Silen said. “Premeditated murder was changed to murder. The suspect was said to be a mentally ill person and before he was not.”
“I lost my trust during the hearing,” she added.
Mey Kimheng, center, leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday after being sentenced to life in prison for killing a Defense Ministry official in June. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)The defendant initially told police that he killed his neighbor because she had regularly spat at him.
His attorney later claimed that Mr. Kimheng had a mental illness and watched too many violent films, and that an assessment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital had found he was suffering from memory loss.
In July, while Mr. Kimseng was in provisional detention, his cousin, Keo Vuthy, was found with his throat slit in a Pur Senchey district apartment the cousins had shared.
Officials said the death was a suicide, but Keo Vuthy’s father, Keo Sothea, sought further investigation, believing his son was killed for telling police that his cousin was home when they came searching for him.
Mr. Sothea suspected that Mr. Kimseng’s father was involved in his death.
“I think he was unhappy with my son and wanted revenge against him,” he said at the time.
San Pet, Kakab commune police chief, said on Wednesday that he had received a complaint from Mr. Sothea the day after Keo Vuthy’s body was discovered.
“We have collected information, questioned all related people and sent a report to superiors already,” Mr. Pet said, but added that his supervisors had not asked for any further investigation into the death.
sony@cambodiadaily.com
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