Twenty-eight suspects arrested in the wake of the Nov 24, 2000 street fighting in
Phnom Penh are set to go to trial on June 11.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Sok Sothamony told the Post on May 24 that he had
proposed June 11 as the date of the trial to be held at the premises of the Supreme
Court due to space and security concerns.
"The Phnom Penh Municipal Court is so cramped, it's like a market," Sothamony
said. "Also previous big criminal trials at the court have been interrupted
by attempts to liberate the suspects."
The 28 men, suspected members of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF) linked to an
alleged abortive coup attempt in the early hours of Nov 24, by law should have been
either brought to trial or released by May 24. Another 26 CFF suspects arrested after
the fighting remain legally detained.
"[Judicial authorities] admit they are making a mistake in procedure but that
it is just a small matter," said Bun Honn, Secretary-General of the Cambodian
Bar Association, regarding the illegal extension of the men's detention. "They
say Cambodia has rule of law, but where is it?"
According to Article 22 of the Cambodian penal code, suspects must be brought to
trial within six months or released from custody pending further investigation.
Chum Sophea, a Cambodian Bar Association lawyer and one of 11legal representatives
of the 28 suspects, confirmed that more time was required to prepare the case and
that the court routinely violated the six-month release rule.