PHNOM Penh Municipal Court has completed hearings in the case against five men suspected of organising a failed bomb plot last year that targeted the Defence Ministry and the state-run television station TV3.
All five -- who are accused of belonging to the Khmer National Unity Front, an antigovernment group also known as the Tiger Head Movement, -- face jail terms of between 20 and 30 years if convicted under the Law on Antiterrorism.
Judge Din Sivuthy said during a hearing on Friday that the presentation of evidence in the case would conclude following testimony from two witnesses called by the lawyer for one of the accused, Loeuk Bunnhean, a former adviser to the Defence Ministry.
“So today is the last hearing. We don’t need to hear any conclusions made by defence lawyers and the other accused, because we have already heard them,” he said. “We just need the two witnesses for the accused Loeuk Bunnhean to testify.”
Uch Sophal, Loeuk Bunnhean’s lawyer, said his client should be released because the case against him hinged largely on a note he has said was part of a Defence Ministry investigation into a terrorist group, not evidence of his involvement in one.
“My client was not involved in the foolish Som Ek’s Tiger Head Movement,” Uch Sophal said, referring to the movement’s alleged mastermind.
“This note is invalid because my client was reporting to high-level officials about his investigation and research into this group,” Uch Sophal said.
Sem Aknousanak, one of the two witnesses who appeared Friday, said he had written the note in question at the behest of Loeuk Bunnhean, adding that the suspect asked him “to take notes so that he could easily report to his boss about the terrorism group”.
In his concluding statement, however, deputy prosecutor Hing Bunchea called the evidence presented by Uch Sophal “meaningless”, and claimed the prosecution had evidence implicating Loeuk Bunnhean in the Tiger Head Movement’s activities from 2005 to the time of his arrest.
Din Sivuthy denied requests from all five accused to dismiss the cases against them. He said a verdict would be read out on October 1.