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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Three bomb plot suspects questioned on ties to terror group

Three bomb plot suspects questioned on ties to terror group

Suspects have been detained for nearly 5 months in connection with foiled January plot that targeted Defence Ministry and TV3.

THREE men currently being held in connection with a January bomb plot in the capital were brought to Municipal Court for questioning Wednesday, during which the judge tried to resolve competing claims about whether two of the men had ties to a mysterious terrorist group.


The three men - Som Ek, Reach Samnang and Phy Savong - were arrested after police foiled the January 2 plot, in which three bombs were placed outside the Defence Ministry and the state television station TV3.

Police said in January that Som Ek had confessed to masterminding the plot, as well as a foiled attempt to bomb the Cambodia-Vietnamese Friendship Monument in July 2007.


I have finished... allowing [the three suspects] to confront each other. 

They said he also accused Reach Samnang and Phy Savong of involvement in the Khmer National Unity Front (KNUF), also known as the Tiger Liberation Movement, which employs as its symbol the image of a tiger head.

Courtroom showdown

Reach Samnang, former deputy police chief for Mondulkiri province, and Phy Savong, a former resistance fighter, have both denied

involvement in the bomb plot and the group.

Ke Sakhorn, the judge investigating the case, told the Post on Wednesday that he wanted to give Reach Samnang and Phy Savoeung the opportunity to answer to Som Ek's claims.

"I have finished questioning the three men and allowing them to confront each other," he said. "Som Ek continued making his incriminating claims that Reach Samnang and Phy Savong are members of the Tiger Head movement, while the two men tried to clear themselves and say they were not involved in Som Ek's activities."

After the interrogation, which was closed to reporters, Ke Sakhorn did not say whether he had reached a decision as to who was involved in the group. He said he had not scheduled a formal hearing in which the three men - as well as three others who have also been detained in connection with the case - would be able to answer to the charges levelled against them.

When charges were filed against the men in January, Municipal Court Prosecutor Hing Bun Chea said they faced 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, as well as recruiting and training terrorists.

Sam Sokong, a lawyer for the Cambodian Defenders Project who is representing Som Ek, said Wednesday that he believed a hearing would be held in July.

He said he was informed on Wednesday that a robbery charge had been filed against his client, although he said he did not know whether this charge was related to the January 2 bomb plot. 



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