Phnom Penh Municipal Court has handed down guilty verdicts against four of five people charged in connection with a failed bomb plot targeting the Defence Ministry and the TV3 station last year.
Som Ek, the alleged leader of the antigovernment Tiger Head Movement, was sentenced to 28 years in prison for planting explosives and recruiting and training terrorists.
Last month, the court sentenced him to 18 years in prison after finding him guilty of involvement in a failed bomb plot in 2007 targeting the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument.
Reading out the verdict on Friday, Judge Din Sivuthy accused Som Ek of “creating the Tiger Head Movement so he could plot against the government”.
“Som Ek used illegal weapons, collected, managed and received funds according to his plan,” Din Sivuthy said.
He said the 2009 plot – which involved the placement of one bomb at the Defence Ministry and two at the TV station – created a “shock to the public”.
The court also found Pov Vannara, Chea Kimyan and Loeuk Bunhean guilty of involvement in the 2009 plot, sentencing each to 20 years in prison.
Phy Savoeung, however, was acquitted, with Din Sivuthy saying there was insufficient evidence against him.
The last day of testimony dealt largely with the case against Loeuk Bunnhean, a former Defence Ministry adviser.
Uch Sophal, Loeuk Bunnhean’s lawyer, said at the time that his client should be released because the case against him hinged largely on a note he has said was part of a Defence Ministry investigation into the Tiger Head Movement. Sem Aknousanak testified that he had written the note in question at the behest of Loeuk Bunnhean, and that the suspect asked him “to take notes so that he could easily report to his boss about the terrorism group”.
But Din Sivuthy said Friday that there was enough evidence to prove that Loeuk Bunnhean was a leader of the movement, also known as the Khmer National Unity Front.
As he left the courtroom after the verdict was read, Loeuk Bunnhean continued to protest his innocence, yelling, “I served the nation for many years, but it turned out like this.”
Som Ek, meanwhile, said the verdict was “unjust”. His lawyer said he planned to appeal.