The alleged triggerman in the 1996 murder of the second prime minister’s brother-in-law recanted his confession Friday at the Appeals Court, claiming he had told police he fired the fatal shots only because he feared for his life.
“I committed no wrong, but I wanted to save my life,” Suos Kasem told the judge. “If I hadn’t given the statement I did, [the police] would have killed me and I could not have been here in the appeal court right now.”
The judge was listening to an appeal against Srung Vong Vannak’s conviction for the murder of Interior Ministry official Kov Samuth, the brother of Hun Sen’s wife.
The Appeals Court judge adjourned the hearing Friday morning before listening to the testimony of the two other appellants, Vannak and Prum Meanrith, saying that further evidence must be sought before he can make a decisive ruling.
Suos Kasem told the judge that police had forcibly taken him to scene of the murder and coerced him into confessing to the killing.
When asked by the court to produce evidence to support his claim, Suos Kasem said the only possible witnesses were the policemen responsible for forcing the confession. The judge ordered a lawyer to be appointed on Suos Kasem’s behalf, in order to prepare for the next hearing.
Vannak, a member of Sam Rainsy’s political party, was also convicted on Sept 9, on the strength of the confessions by Suos Kasem and Prum Meanrith that they had carried out the hit under his instructions. Vannak also confessed to hiring the two, but later recanted, saying he was coerced into confessing because he believed his life was in danger. He was sentenced to 13 years. Suos Kasem and Prum Meanrith received sentences of 15 and 10 years respectively.