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Tiger quartet verdict sticks

Tiger quartet verdict sticks

121115_05
Tiger Head Movement leader Som Ek leaves the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Hong Menea

Four men jailed for devising a terrorist plot failed to have their 20- to 28-year sentences overturned at the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh yesterday.

The men, who were found guilty of planning to blow up the Ministry of Defense and state television station TV3 in January, 2009 as members of the “Tiger Head Movement”, otherwise known as “The Khmer National Unity Front”, continued to profess their innocence in court.

But presiding judge Khun Leang Meng said yesterday their sentences for delivering, placing, discharging or detonating explosives in a public place and recruiting and training terrorists would stick.

“Based on what we’ve heard and real proof, the Court of Appeal understands that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s 2010 decision for the four accused people was right and was made within the law,” he said, adding they still had the right to appeal at the Supreme Court.

After the verdict was read, the four suspects shouted, “This is a great injustice.”

Som Ek, who was given 28 years in jail and has been separately sentenced to 18 years for attempting to blow up the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument in 2007, told the court he had been threatened into confessing by the police.

“When I was arrested, police had kidnapped my wife, who was six months pregnant, to use as a hostage to threaten me,” he said.

“They threatened to arrest and jail both me and my pregnant wife if I did not confess or answer following their forced and prepared answers. So I had to admit to answers as they wanted.”

Ek appealed to foreign dignitaries, diplomats and international organisations attending the ASEAN summit to pressure the government into releasing him, adding he would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Loeuk Bunnhean, Pov Vannara and Chea Kimyan were each sentenced to 20 years in prison.

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