Eight men went on trial in connection with siege of school in Cambodia

Eight men went on trial Friday in connection with the armed siege of an international school near Cambodia's famed Angkor temples in which a 2-year-old Canadian boy was killed. The men arrived in handcuffs at the Siem Reap court under armed security. Four of them involved in the June attack have been charged with premeditated murder, kidnapping, illegal detainment of persons for ransom and illegal use of a weapon.

The charges carry penalties ranging from 15 years to life in prison. Three other alleged accomplices, two private security guards and a man who sold the handgun used to kill the Canadian boy, have been charged with conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, illegal detainment and illegal use of a weapon. It is not yet clear how the eighth man was linked to the incident.

Four masked men stormed Siem Reap International School on June 16 and held about 30 students and some teachers hostage for more than six hours. The crisis ended when police cornered a van in which the men tried to escape with several child hostages and a reported US$30,000 (Ђ25,400) in ransom money.

Several parents, including foreigners, beat the hostage-takers, venting their anger over the ordeal suffered by their children. The attackers later told police that they were penniless, saying they decided to prey on the children of rich foreigners after they failed to find work.

During the ordeal, Chea Sokhom, the alleged mastermind of the raid, used a handgun to shoot the Canadian boy, Maxim Michalik, in the head because he would not stop crying. The boy was born in Canada to Slovakian parents. His body was later buried in his parents' home country of Slovakia. The family had moved to Siem Reap where the father was hired to work at a hotel, reports the AP. I.L.

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