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Bomb trial secretive, NGOs say

Four suspects have not been allowed access to lawyers

RIGHTS groups have called for the release of more details surrounding the arrest, interrogation and trial of four individuals charged in connection with bombs found in the capital earlier this  month, saying the four have not been allowed access to legal council.

"After 24 hours in detention they should have been given access to a lawyer, but so far they have not been in contact with anyone," Chan Soveth, from the rights group Adhoc, told the Post Tuesday, adding that his organisation has provided lawyer Lung Lun to the family of Phy Savong, one of the suspects.

He added that suspects should have by now been allowed to see their families.

On Monday, the four suspects were charged by municipal court prosecutor Hing Bunchea with planning and executing a bomb plot in central Phnom Penh and recruiting and training terrorists. But on Tuesday, investigating judge Ker Sokhorn refused to confirm whether he had upheld the charges.

"It is very hard for me to tell whether I have issued a warrant or not to detain the four suspects. Just write that we are following court procedure," he said.

Witnesses at the court confirmed that they saw the suspects arriving Tuesday morning and leaving around noon.

The names of the accused have been made public, but rights groups say that it has been hard getting further access to information about the arrests.

Sok Phal, deputy commissioner of the National Police,  who on Saturday presented evidence connecting the alleged mastermind Som Ek to an anti-government movement, declined to comment on the case as the matter was now in the hands of the court.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said that he did not have "competence to answer questions on the case, as long as it is pending in the court system".

Sok Sam Oeun, director of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, said he did not know whether the court was following correct procedures, as so little information was available.

"If they want to keep [the case] secret, they should not have arrested the suspects immediately," he said. 

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