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Monument bombers to appeal convictions

Monument bombers to appeal convictions

FIVE Kampuchea Krom activists sentenced to lengthy prison terms for plotting to bomb the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument in July 2007 will launch appeals this week, their  lawyers said Sunday.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Suon Samnang sentenced the men to between 15 and  17 years and fined them 500,000 riels (US$125) Thursday after convicting them of terrorism and the use of illegal explosives.

Kin Toeurn, 53; Soeng Khang, 42; Sok Kim Sovat, 51; Lim Phen, 32; and Soeng Vy, 31, were  found guilty of taking part in a conspiracy to blow up the monument using three homemade fertiliser bombs, allegedly in protest against the treatment of  ethnic minority Khmers by the Vietnamese government.

Lawyer Khun Sovanrithy of the Cambodian Defender's Project, who is defending Kin Toeurn and Soeng Khang, said he was not satisfied with the court's decision, labeling it "unacceptable".

"It was unfair and the sentences from the court are serious," Khun Sovanrithy told the Post Sunday. "I will talk to my clients on Tuesday and then we will file our appeal on Thursday."

Moeun Sovann, another lawyer defending the group, said that when the explosion occurred his clients were not in town, but were in Kampong Speu province with their families. "My clients were tortured and forced to confess while they were in police custody," Moeun Sovann said, adding that "the court decision was based on the police report."

Judge Suon Samnang declined comment about his decision on Sunday.

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