MURDER TRIAL OF CAMBODIAN PREMIER�S NEPHEW BEGINS THURSDAY


2004-01-06
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PHNOM PENH�Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen�s nephew will appear before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court Thursday on charges of murder and causing multiple traffic accidents during an Oct. 27 shooting spree, RFA reports.

�I don�t know how much punishment the court will give to my client, but I insist that Nim Sophea was not a direct murderer,� Nim Sophea�s lawyer Dy Borima told RFA�s Khmer service. �Let�s see what the court will do on Thursday, Jan. 8.�

Nim Sophea, 22, was charged Nov. 25 with three counts of murder and multiple traffic violations for allegedly racing through Phnom Penh streets firing an AK-47 rifle on Oct. 27. Three people were killed from bullet wounds and four were injured in traffic accidents. Nim Sophea entered a plea of not guilty at his arraignment in a Phnom Penh court and has remained in police custody since.

Police arrested Nim Sophea after a month-long search. Nim Sophea said he tried to wrestle the gun from another passenger, Than Chamroeun, who was using the gun to shoot coconut vendors and people nearby. Nim Sophea�s younger brother Nim Chantana and another man named So Van are also believed to be in police custody for taking part in the shooting spree.

Nguon Sothearith, the attorney for the four injured victims, told RFA he was summoned to the Phnom Penh court Jan. 2 for an out-of-court settlement offer.

�The court�s clerk asked me to accept a monetary settlement instead [of going to trial]. But I denied his request by saying the trial must happen in order for the victims to see justice. People are not a shooting target for fun,� he said.

�I don�t believe the court will achieve justice at the Jan. 8 trial. If the trial is not satisfactory to the victims, I will take the case to the appeals court,� Nguon Sothearith said.

Nim Sophea is a son of Hun Sen�s sister, Hun Sinath, a Foreign Ministry official.

�I don�t know much about my son�s case. I am counting on the court and his lawyer to do a good job,� Hun Sinath said.

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