Five men accused of belonging to the US-based Cambodian Freedom Fighters and plotting anti-government uprisings in Pailin were tried at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday, in a case with little material evidence and no witnesses.
Sou Kim, 50, who ran as Funcinpec’s No 2 candidate for Pailin in last year’s general elections, was arrested in February after being linked to the CFF rebel group through the confessions of four other men. Those four suspects, Penh Bora, 23, Van Vuthy, 42, Chea Chanthorn, 47, and Tuy Bol, 48, were arrested in Phnom Penh in November and confessed to belonging to a CFF cell led by Sou Kim.
But the admissions upon which the case was built fell apart in court Wednesday, as the suspects claimed, one after another, that they had confessed under duress.
Van Vuthy, in testimony similar to the others’, said he had been taken from the police station to another house for questioning, where police shocked him with electric wires when he first refused to thumbprint a confession.
“I feared for my life,” he said.
Apparently unfazed by the suspects’ change of heart, prosecutor Khut Sopheang directed his attention to Sou Kim and waved a piece of paper—which he did not officially present to the court—printed with several mug shots.
“Police have documents detailing the structure of the CFF in Cambodia, and these documents have your picture,” he said to Sou Kim. “How can you explain that?”
Sou Kim denied any connection to the CFF, and noted that the photo was scanned from his passport.
“The police created fake evidence to charge me,” he said.
The trial ended without a decision, as presiding Judge Tan Senarong said he needed time to process the case. A verdict will be read Sept 27.
The CFF is blamed for a failed attack on the capital in November 2000, in which at least four people died and several policemen were injured.