Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - JI suspect sentenced in December 2004 still waiting for appeal

JI suspect sentenced in December 2004 still waiting for appeal

JI suspect sentenced in December 2004 still waiting for appeal

The defense lawyer for three men convicted of plotting to bomb the US and British

embassies will write a letter to the Appeal Court requesting a trial date be set

soon.

Kao Soupha, who is representing two Thai nationals and one Cambodian, said he will

write to the Appeal Court in early August and urge them to reconsider the case against

his clients.

Thai Muslims Abdul Azi Haji Chiming, 35, and Muhammad Yalaludin Mading, 41, along

with Cambodian Cham Sman Ismael, 24 , were found guilty of conspiring to commit terrorism

and were sentenced to life in prison after a one-day trial on December 28, 2004.

The key witness in the trial was a mototaxi driver who claimed to have heard the

men plotting the attacks in English with an associate of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leader

Hambali, despite later admitting he did not speak English.

During a visit on April 27, Sman Ismael told his family that American FBI agents

had interviewed him, showing him about 50 photos of suspects. Ismael said he did

not recognize any of the faces and was relieved that his photo was not included.

"I asked them to release me, but they did not reply to that," Ismael said.

The Cham Muslim said policemen at the prison had admitted they knew he was innocent

and that the key witness was arranged by police, but said they could not release

him because the court had already ruled and the case was a political issue.

"I still hope that one day I will get out [because] I did not commit any crime,"

Ismael said. "If I were involved with the JI group, I would have run away [before

being arrested]."

Om Yentieng, an advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen and head of the government's human

rights committee, said he had visited Ismael's family in Kampot and met around 60

villagers two months ago.

"I have explained to them that by law I don't have the right to release him,

but they can file an appeal," Yentieng said.

Yentieng and at least two representatives of the US Embassy had questioned Ismael's

family days prior to his arrest, according to an interview with relatives on March

2.

The wives of the Thai men made their second visit on July 12, Soupha said.

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