B’bang CFF Trial Ends With 18 Convictions

The Battambang provincial court convicted 18 people Mon­day of involvement in the Cambo­dian Freedom Fighters, senten­cing them to jail for seven to 18 years.

The government has now convicted 94 people for their alleged involvement in the rebel group. Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party members have claimed some of the convictions are a government crackdown on their members.

The court Monday convicted three Funcinpec members, claiming they were named on a list found on convicted CFF member Richard Kiri Kim’s computer, according to defense attorneys.

“I don’t know why the government continues to convict Funcin­pec members, because the Prime Minister made a statement Friday saying he would finish with the CFF,” Funcinpec parliamentarian Nan Sy said Mon­day.

Co-Minister of Defense Prince Sisowath Sirirath defended Mon­day’s convictions, saying  “anyone could claim to be a Funcinpec member.” He said the party will investigate whether Suy Bour, Srey Yi and Nem So­pheap—three alleged Funcin­pec members given jail sentences of 13 and 14 years—are actually members of the party.

In addition to the computer list, the court used confessions, documents, guns, explosives, CFF flags and membership cards to convict the 18 suspects, according to a court observer.

The 18 were arrested in Sep­tem­ber and October 2001 and charged with membership in an armed group and terrorism. The court accused all 18 of being directly linked to the CFF or helping to organize the group’s Nov 24, 2000, attack in Phnom Penh.

Defense attorney Hong Kim Soun, who represented two of the three Funcinpec members, was not present to hear the verdict Monday. He said he went to Banteay Meanchey province to defend another Funcinpec member accused of CFF involvement.

The Banteay Meanchey pro­vin­cial court has been trying Fun­cinpec member Pin Chi, Hong Kim Soun said. Although Pin Chi’s name was not on the list of CFF suspects, the defense attorney said provincial authorities found a CFF membership card in Pin Chi’s possession.

The Banteay Meanchey court is expected to hand down a verdict today or Wednesday, Hong Kim Soun said.

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