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Unlawful detention

Amnesty International and a lawyer have expressed concern about the continuing unlawful

detention in Phnom Penh of four terrorist suspects, arrested last year on suspicion

of being members of Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamic group linked to al-Qaeda.

Kao Soupha, lawyer for the three foreigner suspects, said he wrote on August 27 to

the Minister of Justice and the Appeals Court to push for an investigation to bring

justice for them. No reply has been received.

He said the suspects have been detained for more than 15 months which abuses the

six-month legal limit for pre-trial detention.

Three of the suspects - two Thai nationals, Abdul Azi Haiji Chiming and Muhammad

Yalaludin Mading, and one Egyptian national, Esam Mohammed Khidr Ali were arrested

on 25 May 2003.

The three were allegedly associated with a Saudi-based NGO in Cambodia, Om-Alqura,

which ran several Islamic schools.

One month later, in June 2003, a Cambodian national, Sman Esma El, was also arrested.

He is from the Muslim Cham ethnic minority.

Amnesty International said it was increasingly concerned at the lengthy imprisonment

and that the government was alienating the Muslim community in Cambodia, risking

terrorism activity.

The human rights organization also raised questions about American "experts"

who allegedly interrogated the suspects, threatening them verbally.

US Embassy spokesperson Heide Bronke declined to comment.

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