The leader of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters lashed out at the Cambodian judiciary over prison sentences handed down Friday to 30 suspected members of the rebel group.
Chhun Yasith, president of the CFF, said the seven-day trial conducted by Municipal Court Judge Sok Setha Mony was biased.
“This unfair and not independent court system is unlawfully conducting the meaningless sentencing of Cambodian Freedom Fighters’ officers and commanders,” he said in a statement faxed to news organizations.
Chhun Yasith, who lives in the US state of California, was tried in absentia and sentenced to life in prison. The US does not have an extradition agreement with Cambodia. Chhun Yasith told US reporters that he will not travel to Cambodia to accept his sentence.
The estranged wife of Richard Kiri Kim, also speaking from the US, said there was nothing she could do for her husband, who began serving a life sentence on Friday for his role with the CFF. “I told him to watch out for that country,” said Sandra Kiri Kim. “After all, my family got killed, I don’t trust people.”
The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 18 local NGOs, became the fourth such organization to criticize the trial for its failure to protect the defendant’s right to a fair trial. The group said the court violated legal procedure before and during the trial.
Lawyers and family members were prohibited from seeing suspects in detention for several months, a violation of UN law, the CHRAC statement said.
Most of the suspects were detained for more than six months before the start of the trial, another violation of Cambodian law.