Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - 18 more convicted in latest CFF trial

18 more convicted in latest CFF trial

18 more convicted in latest CFF trial

The provincial court in Battambang sentenced 18 men accused of membership in the

outlawed Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF) March 25 to prison terms of between seven

and 18 years.

One man was tried in absentia. Defense lawyers representing six men claimed the police

had tortured their clients and forced them to confess.

Judge Chhay Kong convicted the accused, four of whom are members of the royalist

Funcinpec party, on charges of belonging to an armed group and plotting acts of terrorism

with the aim of toppling the government.

"This hearing was not satisfactory," said Thach Reng, defense attorney

for three convicted Funcinpec members. "The evidence brought against the suspects

is baseless."

Reng, a former member of parliament for the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party, said

the court used as evidence a list of names from a computer, along with allegedly

forced confessions, CFF flags, weapons and explosives. He said a military court should

have dealt with the case as his clients were accused of military crimes.

"My clients claimed they were chained and beaten by the military police,"

said Reng. "They had scars on their bodies, and said they lost about 60,000

baht (around $1,200) and a few damleung of gold when the military police raided their

houses. However, the judge did not address their complaints."

Another defense lawyer, Hong Kim Suon, said his three clients had also been tortured

to extract confessions.

"They told the judge that the military police beat them and forced them to write

their confessions," Kim Suon said. "They were told that if they did not

confess they would not be freed."

"I feel very sorry for them as they are very poor," said Reng. "For

the sake of national unity, I would like to ask Prime Minister Hun Sen to write a

letter to the King requesting amnesty."

The three convicted Funcinpec members were Nem Sopheap, who received 14 years in

jail, Sou Sang, who will serve 13 years, and Hang Nhong, who received eight years.

Reng said that some of those convicted were former Khmer Rouge, and added that the

arrests of his clients, between November and December last year, was done without

warrants.

Kim Suon is defending another Funcinpec member accused of belonging to the CFF in

Banteay Meanchey's province court. The verdict in that case is due April 2.

The latest convictions bring to almost 100 the number of people convicted of belonging

to the CFF, which staged an abortive coup attempt in the capital in November 2000.

That attack left eight dead and a dozen wounded.

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