The alleged ringleader behind a Phnom Penh grenade attack that injured at least three people during a September attempt to kill her boyfriend was in court on Monday accused of ordering his murder in an earlier attack.
Sok Kimly, 41, has been charged with premeditated murder along with four others for organizing the grenade attack on Street 163 in Chamkar Mon district. Vietnamese nationals Chang Thi Ve, 46, Le Dang Dong, 47, and Ni Soi Binh, 36, face charges of attempted murder.
Onlookers and officials stand in front of a pickup truck damaged by a grenade blast on Street 163 in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district on September 2016. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily) Police accused the group of attempting to kill Ea Lyhour, who owns a motorbike accessory store just meters from the blast site, but was not injured.
All four were on trial on Monday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court over a 2015 effort to murder Mr. Lyhour, then Ms. Kimly’s boyfriend.
Ms. Kimly is accused of asking Mr. Dang Dong to arrange the murder. In court, he admitted that Ms. Kimly handed him a gun, photographs of the intended victim and his address.
“Kimly said if I was successful, she would get me a new motorbike and give me some money,” he told the court.
Mr. Dang Dong claimed he then arranged for Mr. Soi Binh to carry out the shooting.
Mr. Soi Binh admitted to the court that he was promised $10,000 and was handed a gun, but claimed he buried the weapon, before visiting the intended victim and requesting money after producing his photos.
Ms. Kimly told prosecutors that she started dating Mr. Lyhour while she was still with her Singaporean husband, but decided that she wanted him dead after he admitted he was only with her for her money.
A man takes photographs of the scene of a grenade blast in Phnom Penh early September 2016. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily) In court, however, Ms. Kimly denied the admission.
“I did not hire him to kill a person,” she said. “I did not know Le Dang Dong.”
Suy Sokhon, a lawyer for Ms. Kimly, said his client should be acquitted as there was no actual effort to kill Mr. Lyhour in 2015.
“No action happened. They just exchanged words,” he said.
A verdict in the case tried on Monday is expected on June 21, and will be followed by a second trial related to the grenade explosion on September 6.
The charge of premeditated murder is defined in the Criminal Code as a “plan conceived beforehand to make an attempt against the person or the victim,” and does not require the victim to die.
National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith initially stated that last year’s explosion was masterminded by an unnamed “political group” that “intended to cause social turmoil” and claimed officials were searching for two men who passed on motorbikes seconds before the explosion. He later denied he ever made the suggestion.
sony@cambodiadaily.com
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