(Post by CAAI News Media)
Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday sentenced a young woman to 18 months in jail for the illegal firing of a handgun. She will be sent to Prey Sar prison for 18 months and fined CR1 million, a court official said.
Khe Dara, 30, who also goes by the name Keo Ratanak and nickname ‘Gech’, was found guilty by Municipal Judge Chaing Sinath. Prosecutor Heang Sopheak said the convicted girl seemed pale and shocked.
Khe Dara told the court that she fired her gun because a Honda CRV car blocked her in. “I was very afraid so I decided to shoot two bullets in the sky to attract local police to help me.”
She claimed that “Somebody of indefinite name used to follow me and arrest me to demand money.”
She claimed to have bought her pistol from Shanghai, China. “I am a housewife so I need a gun,” she added. Phnom Penh Municipal Judge Chaing Sinath asked her if she was aware that using the gun was illegal. She admitted she did understand.
The court apparently sent her to the prison “to warn all other gangster teenagers not to follow this girl’s action.”
A witness recalled seeing Khe Dara driving a Lexus with number plate 2H-2266. “She stopped in front the Sovannara clinic then she took a gun and shot four bullets in the sky. After that she left her car came into the clinic and insulted the clinic staffs.” Local police arrived soon after, the witness said.
Defense lawyer Dara Nach Try asked the court to merely fine her because “she is a weak lady.” But others told a different story, noting that Khe Dara had slung harsh insults at Cambodian journalists.
One lawyer, who declined to give his name, said that there was enough evidence for a prison sentence.
One woman present in the court told DAP News Cambodia that the verdict was a step in the right direction for Cambodia. “The court dared to convict this girl and fine money from her … I was very happy to see the court give a just ruling.”