Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bomb plot mastermind faces court today: police

Bomb plot mastermind faces court today: police

Bomb plot mastermind faces court today: police

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Authorities say the man who allegedly planned a bombing attempt this month was also behind a 2007 bomb attack on the Vietnamese Friendship Monument

Photo by: KEM SOVANNARA

Police display a photograph of the alleged mastermind of the bomb plot that targeted the Ministry of Defence.

FOUR suspects being held in connection with bombs discovered January 2 that appeared to target the Defence Ministry and state television station TV3 will appear before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today, two days after police announced that the alleged mastermind had confessed to his involvement in the foiled attack.

Speaking at a press conference Saturday, Sok Phal, deputy director general of the National Police, said suspect Som Ek had confessed to masterminding the January 2 plot as well as a foiled attempt to bomb the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument on July 29, 2007.

Som Ek, 44, who has dual Thai-Cambodian citizenship, was born in Kampong Cham's Koh Sotin district and was formerly involved in the Khmer People's National Liberation Front, Sok Phal said. He worked for the Defence Ministry in 1993 and later went to study in the United States for 18 months, where he learned to make explosives. He was jailed for three months in  2003 for forging Defence Ministry documents, he added.

Som Ek was arrested in connection with the January 2 plot on Wednesday in Banteay Meanchey's O'Chrov district.

Sok Phal said Som Ek ordered the bombings in an attempt to get foreign support and funding for the Khmer National Unity Front (KNUF), also known as the Tiger Liberation Movement, which uses the tiger head as its symbol. Som Ek allegedly took pictures of members of the group planning and carrying out the attacks to send to potential donors based outside the country.

Sok Phal compared the KNUF to the Cambodian Freedom Fighters organisation in that both groups receive support from outside donors, but he declined to elaborate on that comparison. He said police were looking to arrest people both inside and outside Cambodia who are allegedly involved with the KNUF.

Police arrested five people in 2007 in connection with the foiled attack on the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument, Sok Phal said, noting that those suspects have been detained in Prey Sar prison. He said police discovered bomb-making materials and a remote-controlled helicopter that could transport a bomb. He said Som Ek claimed in his confession to ordering five people to place bombs in front of the monument.

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