Terror sentences upheld

Foreign nationals Rafiqul Eslami (left) and DP Paudel
Foreign nationals Rafiqul Eslami (left) and DP Paudel sit outside the Supreme Court yesterday morning. The court upheld eight-year sentences for them and a third man on terrorism charges. Sreng Meng Srun

Terror sentences upheld

The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the eight-year prison sentences of three foreign men convicted in 2011 on tenuous evidence of threatening to bomb the US, UK and Australian embassies.

The trio’s initial conviction was seemingly based solely on a letter allegedly signed by Bangladeshi nationals Rafiqul Eslami and Miah Muhammed Huymayan Kabir, and Nepalese national DP Paudel, in which the men purportedly claimed to be members of the terrorist organisation al-Qaeda plotting to bomb the embassies.

All three have repeatedly and vigorously denied the allegations, and yesterday was no different, with the men reacting angrily to the verdict outside of the courtroom.

“If I did it, I would have run away when police invited me for interrogation, but I did not, because I am innocent,” Eslami said yesterday.

“There is no law in Cambodia, and some people are blind. If Cambodia had laws, the court would not sentence us to eight years in prison.”

The letter upon which the case hinges has been repeatedly called into question, including by the Bangladeshi government and police themselves.

National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said in a 2010 interview that a police investigation revealed “that the person who wrote the anonymous letter to the embassies accusing the four men of terrorism was actually just jealous that their restaurants were doing good business”. Two years later, however, he denied having ever made the statement.

Dun Vibol, an attorney who once represented Kabir, said in 2012 that forensic police had determined that the letter was a fake, but because it was a terrorism case, “no one dared dismiss the charge”.

The embassies purported to have received the letters have repeatedly declined to comment on the particulars of the case. The US Embassy yesterday declined to comment, while requests for comment sent to the Australian and British embassies were not immediately answered.

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