5 Men Tried In Monument Bombing Case

The trial of five men charged with involvement in a failed attempt to blow up the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument in Phnom Penh last year took place at the municipal court Tuesday.

Following the hearing, Judge Chhay Kong, chief of the three-judge panel presiding over the case, did not specify when a verdict would be announced.

The five suspects—Kim Toeun, 53, Soeung Hang, 42, Soeung Vy, 32, Lim Phen, 33 and Sok Kim Sovath, 51—are accused of having planted a number of explosive devices around the monument July 29.

One small device exploded, while a number of larger bombs failed to go off and were made safe by bomb disposal experts.

No one was injured in the incident, and the monument was undamaged.

Five witnesses who testified in court did not identify any of the five as having been present near the monument in the lead-up to the explosion, according to Kun Sovanrinthy, who acted as attorney for Kim Toeun and Soeung Hang.

Attorney Moeurn Sovann, of the legal aid NGO Cambodia Defend­ers Project, who represented Soeung Vy, Lim Phen and Sok Kim Sovath, said after the trial that police had tortured and threatened his clients to extract confessions.

“My clients were in Kompong Speu and Battambang” at the time of the explosion, he said.

During the trial, the five men took to the stand to appeal to the jud­ges to release them, alleging that any confessions signed by them had been extracted under torture.

“As I told the court earlier, I did not do anything,” said Sok Kim Sovath, whom police allege was the ringleader of the operation.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak denied Tuesday that police had tortured the suspects.

“We just filed the case, and the court will make the judgment,” he said.

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