12 CFF Attackers To Be Released From Prison

Twelve of 23 convicted Cambo­dian Freedom Fighters are expected to be released from prison in the com­ing days after serving months and in some cases years longer than their original sentences, a lawyer said Thursday. 

The scheduled release follows the Appeals Court’s Thursday up­hold­ing of the convictions against all 23, re­lating to a CFF attack on gov­ern­ment buildings in Novem­ber 2000.

The 12 had been originally sentenced to between one and five years in prison by Phnom Penh Mu­nicipal Court in 2001, but when they ap­pealed their cases, the ap­peals pro­cess dragged on beyond the dates when they should have been re­leased.

Ten men sentenced to five-year terms and two sentenced to one and three year terms respectively, are to be freed, defense lawyer Sann Chuoy said. Eleven others who were giv­en longer sentences will re­main jailed, while one defendant, Sok Sam, died at age 36 on April 18 af­ter falling sick in prison, Sann Chuoy said.

He added that his clients had been tricked into participating in the attack.

Prosecutor Kong Srim said that while some of the defendants were tricked into joining the CFF, they were nonetheless guilty because they “caused disaster to the na­tion.”

Thirteen witnesses to the CFF’s failed and haphazard attack are scheduled to fly to the US to testify and present evidence in the July tri­al of CFF leader Chhun Yasith, who is accused of masterminding the 2000 in­cident, officials said.

Moek Dara, director of the In­ter­i­or Ministry’s anti-drug police de­partment, said he will escort 13 witnesses to California to present testimony and evidence at the trial.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the group in­cluded police and military police who fought the motley band of CFF at­tackers as well as gas station work­ers injured during the attack.

US Embassy spokesman Jeff Dai­g­­le confirmed that the Chhun Ya­sith’s prosecutor had requested the witnesses come to testify and that the embassy had worked with Cam­bo­­dian authorities to coordinate the trip.

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