Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Men in Black are back for CFF info

Men in Black are back for CFF info

Men in Black are back for CFF info

A delegation from the United States Justice Department is in Phnom Penh gathering statements from potential witnesses in the case against Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF) president Chhun Yasith.

On October 5, eight foreigners were seen leaving the Anti-Drug Department after interviewing a man in a blue prison uniform, who prison officials later confirmed was convicted CFF member Richard Kiri Kim.

"The Justice Department people are here doing depositions, gathering information for the trial of Chhun Yasith," said Jeff Daigle, spokesman for the US Embassy.

"For us it's just a routine kind of thing you do in preparation for a trial - it's very mundane," said Daigle, who could not confirm whether the Justice Department officials included agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

He said the delegation would stay "as long as it takes to get their work done" and said it was too early to tell whether any of the interviewees would be taken to America to testify in Yasith's trial.

Kim Sarin, director of Correctional Center 1, confirmed October 6 that only Richard Kiri Kim has been taken from his prison to testify since October 5.

Sarin said the Cambodian government asked him to allow Kiri Kim to be transported outside the prison for a "long time" to give evidence to the US officials.

The interviews continued October 6 at the Anti-Drug Department, which was being used because it was available, not because of any links to drug crimes, said a policeman

"It takes place in our department because it is quiet and anyway the Ministry of Interior does not work on October 5," said the policeman guarding the department, but would not give his name.

Yasith ran a tax accounting business and his rebel movement from the same office in California, earning his group tags in the media such as "the strip-mall revolutionaries."

The American-Cambodian citizen was arrested in the US on June 1 and charged with tax fraud, and of conspiring to attack a government, for which he faces life imprisonment.

Yasith was accused by a US prosecutor of violating the Neutrality Act, which prohibits conspiring to kill or damage property in a foreign country or carry out military expeditions against a nation with whom the United States is at peace.

During November 2000, 70 CFF members attacked the Ministry of Defense and Council of Ministers buildings in Phnom Penh that left eight people killed and more than 12 wounded.