The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday convicted a Chinese woman for tearing up the photos of Cambodia's late former King Norodom Sihanouk and sentenced her to suspended one-year jail term, according to a verdict announced by presiding judge Seng Neang.
The verdict said that Wang Zia Chao, 44, former production manager of the Top World factory in Phnom Penh's Meanchey district, was found guilty of "intentional damage of the photos of recently deceased former King Norodom Sihanouk".
"The Court decided to sentence Wang Zia Chao to one-year in jail, but the jail term is suspended, and fine her $750," the verdict said. "She will be deported soon after the verdict."
Wang Zia Chao has also compensated $500 to a complainant Seng Seangly, a garment worker.
Sy Vanny, deputy prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said that Wang Zia Chao was charged with the violation of the Constitutional Law, which stated that "the King shall not be violated".
The conviction was made after Wang Zia Chao tore up two photos of late King-Father Norodom Sihanouk on Monday morning.
In an interview with Xinhua, the Chinese lady said she got angry and tore up the photos when a group of workers in the factory gathered to watch the photos during working time.
Kuoch Chamroeun, governor of Meanchey district, said Monday that the woman grabbed the photos from workers and tore them up, but they were not torn, so she used scissors to cut them as two parts.
The lady's behavior sparked outrage among about 1,000 workers in the factory, and they demanded the lady to apologize for her insulting action.
Soon after the incident, police arrived at the factory and handcuffed the woman. She agreed to kneel in front of the portrait of late King Father Norodom Sihanouk at the factory for forgiveness before she was sent to the court for legal action.
Speaking in the hearing session on Tuesday afternoon, Wang Zia Chao confessed to her mistake.
"I used scissors to cut the two photos, but I don't know that the photos were the late king's photos. If I knew they were the king I would not tear them up," she told the court.
"I am very sorry for the incident. I acknowledge that I am wrong. I would like to ask the court to send me back to my country because I have a daughter to raise," she said.
According to an announcement of the factory on Monday, Wang Zia Chao was sacked from her position as the production manager.
Yang Tianyue, Spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia, said Tuesday that "The lady's behavior is very stupid, and we are also very angry with her."
He said that the lady's action was "an individual behavior only, it represented neither the Government of China nor Chinese people".
The most revered ex-King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia died of illness at the age of 90 in Beijing on Monday and his body was transported to Phnom Penh by Air China jumbo jet on Wednesday afternoon.
The country announced a week of mourning from October 17-23, and the body of the King-Father will be lying in state at least 3 months at the Royal Palace before it is cremated.
Born on October 31, 1922, Sihanouk reigned the country from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until his voluntary abdication on October 7, 2004 in favor of his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni.
He was the king who led the country to gain independence from France in 1953. He was a presence through decades of political and social turmoil in Cambodia, despite long periods of exile overseas.
He was named the father of independence, territorial integrity, and national reconciliation and unity.
He suffered from various forms of cancer, diabetes and hypertension and had been treated by Chinese doctors in Beijing for years before his death.