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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Convicted JI terrorists' appeal case remains in limbo

Convicted JI terrorists' appeal case remains in limbo


The Thai Embassy and the lawyer representing three men serving life sentences

for conspiring to commit acts of terrorism and of having links with the Islamic

group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) have written yet again to the Appeal Court asking it

to hear the case soon.

Cambodian Sman Esma El and Thais Abdul azi Haji Chiming and Muhammad Yalaludin Mading appealed in January 2005 against their life sentences and are still waiting to be heard.

Cambodian Cham Sman Esma El, 24, and Thai

citizens Abdul Azi Haji Chiming, 35, and Muhammad Yalaludin Mading, 41, were

found guilty of conspiring to commit terrorism and planning to bomb the British

and US embassies after a one-day trial on December 28, 2004.

They had

been arrested in May 2003, along with a fourth defendant at the trial, Egyptian

Esam Mohamid Khadr Ali, director of the Saudi-funded Om Alqura Institute, who

was set free. Five other people were sentenced to life imprisonment in


On March 24 the lawyer for the three men, Kao Soupha, wrote a

third letter to Appeal Court president Ly Vuoch Leng urging the court to hear

the case as more than a year had passed since the men's


Soupha said the case is very important, especially as it

involved foreigners. "I think the Appeal Court should try the case soon," Soupha

said. "They would be released because they are innocent."


Chapatiyut, spokesman at the Thai embassy, said the Thai embassy similarly had

sent two letters through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International

Cooperation requesting the Appeal Court to take the case to trial, but had not

received a reply.

"The Thai embassy would like the Appeal Court to take

the case to trial soon," Chapatiyut said. "But we have to respect the judiciary

of Cambodia and I expect that everything will be done under court procedure.

What we can do is urge the Cambodian court to try the case soon."

Chapatiyut said an embassy official had visited the two convicted Thais

last week. He added that their wives had visited them several times since their

arrest and imprisonment.

Hanrot Raken, general prosecutor at the Appeal

Court, said he did not know what stage the case is in. He said the trial process

at the Appeal Court was slow because there were many cases and a lack of judges

and prosecutors.

He said around 2,000 civil and criminal cases come

before the Appeal Court every year.

Esma El's uncle, Math Yusos, said

Esma El's family believes he is not guilty, and is looking forward to the Appeal

Court's decision.

"When we meet him at prison he always says he was not

involved with [JI] and asks us to believe him," Yusos said.

He said Prime

Minister Hun Sen's adviser, Om Yentieng, head of the government human rights

committee, had visited Esma El at the Provisional Jail last month and gave him

100,000 riel.



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