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Appeal Court upholds terrorism convictions

The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld the convictions of two men from Bangladesh and a third from Nepal who were convicted in 2011 and each sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of having planned a terrorist plot against three foreign embassies in Phnom Penh.

Presiding judge Chay Chandaravann said Bangladeshi nationals Rafiqul Eslami, 44, Miah Muhammed Huymayan Kabir, 65, and Nepalese national DP Paudel, 47, would remain in prison, where they have been since their arrest in April 2010 after the US, Australian and British embassies reportedly received terrorist threats in the form of letters bearing what appeared to be the men’s signatures.

Muong Sokun, a defence lawyer for Eslami, as well as Chea Sophy, the attorney for the other defendants, said their clients would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

“I think that the decision of Appeal Court was very unjust for my client, because there was not any real proof to show that he committed this offence as accused,” said Sokun.

Eslami has claimed that the letter was written by people who were attempting to extort money from him in a business deal.

At least at one time, the police seemingly agreed.

“During our month-long investigation, we realised that the person who wrote the anonymous letter to the embassies accusing the four men of terrorism was actually just jealous that their restaurants were doing good business,” national police spokesman Kirt Chantharith told the Post in 2010.

When contacted yesterday, however, Chantharith said that he remembered the case, but “never said that”.

Dun Vibol, who was no longer involved with the case, but represented Kabir in the original trial, said yesterday that forensic police ruled the letter a fake at trial, but because it was a terrorism case, “no one dared dismiss the charge”.

“In my experience, a difficult case like this, I think that only the Supreme Court can decide,” he added.  

The British, US and Australian embassies declined to comment on the case.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at reaksmeykongkea.buth@phnompenhpost.com
Stuart White at stuart.white@phnompenhpost.com

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