Five men jailed for involvement with the Cambodian Freedom Fighters will complete their sentences early next month, but the Prey Sar prison director said their release hinges on whether they agree to drop their appeals.
“I told their family members that I will not allow them to leave from prison, even though the deadline to detain them is arriving, if they do not withdraw their complaints from the Appeals Court,” prison Director Kim Sarin said Wednesday.
The five men—Sok Seangly, Chey Vandy, Roth Sean, Tes Sarin and Vieng Chim—have been jailed since Dec 5, 2000 in connection with the November 2000 attack on government buildings for which the CFF claimed responsibility, Kim Sarin said.
“I don’t know what their families will do. I think their lawyers understand it,” Kim Sarin said of his proposal.
Ke Cham Roeun, a Cambodian Defenders Project attorney who is providing legal counsel for Sok Seangly and Chey Vandy, said Wednesday that his clients’ families had asked him to drop their appeals. “But,” he added, “I am worried they could be detained more than three years because the prosecutor filed complaints to appeal as well. If the prosecutor drops his complaint, they will be free in December.”
Ngeth Sarath, the Municipal Court prosecutor who handled the cases, said Wednesday he could not remember if he had taken complaints to the Appeals Court.
Meanwhile, writing Wednesday by e-mail from the US state of California, CFF President Chhun Yasith said the so-called rebel group had no involvement in the assassination of Judge Sok Sethamony, as authorities alleged last week after arresting three suspects.
“CFF did not attempt to assassinate any individuals except planning to overthrow this entire communist-style government,” Chhun Yasith wrote.
He did say, though, that the three suspects—Chhun Chetra, Chhum Chaly and Mol Meat—were formerly affiliated with his organization. “I supported them for a living, [but] not to continue any CFF missions at all,” he wrote.
Chhun Yasith confirmed that Chhun Chetra is his cousin, as police alleged, and said that the three were arrested in 1999 for firing a rocket over Sokimex oil tanks on the banks of the Tonle Sap.
He went on to accuse the government of using the CFF as a scapegoat because it cannot find the killers. “I think the government did not have anybody to put blame on [for] Sok Sethamony’s death, [and is] then using CFF’s image to cover up their impossibility of investigation.”
Chhun Yasith also reiterated his familiar vow to overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government. “All armed forces and units are almost ready in a few weeks. The wildfire operation will burn those criminal leaders in hell.” (Additional reporting by Porter Barron)