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Terrorism charges in bomb plot

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Former police official, SRP member among accused.

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Sovann Philong

Houn Raksa, daughter of bomb plot suspect Phy Savong, begs for the release of her father at the front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court Monday night. Phy Savong and three other suspects were charged with two offences under Cambodia's anti-terrorism law and face up to 30 years in prison.

FOUR people, including a former provincial deputy police chief and an opposition party defector, were charged Monday under Cambodia's anti-terrorism law over an alleged bomb plot targeting the Defence Ministry and the state-run television station,TV3, officials say.

According to Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Hing Bunchea, the four face up to 30 years in prison if convicted on charges of delivering, placing, discharging or detonating an explosive or lethal device in a public place, and recruiting and training terrorists.

The charges stem from three small bombs discovered January 2 outside the Defence Ministry and TV3.

Included among the accused are Reach Samnang, Mondulkiri province's former deputy police chief, and Lek Bunnhean, a one-time Sam Rainsy Party member who defected to the ruling Cambodian People's Party and last year publicly accused opposition leader Sam Rainsy of involvement in the 1998 rocket attack allegedly targeting Prime Minister Hun Sen in Siem Reap.

Two former resistance fighters, Phy Savong and Som Ek, the alleged plot mastermind,  also stand accused.

Investigating judge Ker Sokhorn said the case merited further scrutiny after 10 hours of interviews Monday.

His comments came a day after police said that Som Ek confessed to organising both the most recent bombing attempt and an earlier plot to blow up the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument in July 2007.

Two UN monitors at the court Monday were barred from the interviews, as were monitors from Cambodian rights groups Licadho and Adhoc.

Phy Savong's wife, Prum Thavy, said that her husband was seized at his home in Kandal province's Kien Svay district Thursday without explanation.

"It is a huge injustice. Police ... took him away in a car without explaining why or showing a warrant," she said outside court.



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