Chams Visit 3 Jailed Muslims For Ramadan

A group of Cham Muslims visited three foreign nationals who have been detained on suspicion of ties to the Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah on Wednesday in observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Ten visitors, hailing from the same village in Ponhea Leu district, Kandal province, where the three suspects worked at an Is­lamic school before their arrest, agreed that the prisoners ap­peared well-treated.

“Judging by their looks, they are in good health, even though the Thais are a little skinny,” said Mad Him, 44.

He added that the three were free to practice their religion and pray daily in jail.

Mad Him explained the visit, saying, “There is a Muslim tradition to care for each other and to share in each others’ sorrow.”

In late May, police closed two Islamic schools and charged Thai Muslims Abdul Azi Haji Chiming, 35, Muhammad Yalaludin Mad­ing, 41, and Egyptian Esam Mo­hammed Khidr Ali, 40, with terrorist acts linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah group, which has been blamed for last year’s Bali, In­donesia, bombing and the bombing of a Jakarta hotel in August.

The villagers brought vegetarian dishes and money for the suspects, their lawyer, Kao Soupha, said. He added that about 30 more people are expected to visit and show their support for the prisoners towards the end of Ramadan.

The men have been imprisoned for nearly six months, the maximum amount of time permitted by law that a suspect can be detained before trial.

Investigating Judge Oun Bun­na said Thursday that his investigation is ongoing and no date has been set for a trial.

“We have not finished collecting the evidence, so we can’t wrap it up yet, but the end of the six-month detention period is coming close, so I am considering extending the detention for one more month,” Oun Bunna said.

Kao Soupha responded, “When the deadline of six months arrives, I will demand the release of my clients.”


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