The alleged ringleader of the recent Phnom Penh hotel bombings and one of his accomplices have been charged with terrorism and organizing an illegal armed group, police said.
Meanwhile, Sreng Sreang, acting director of the prison department at the Ministry of Interior, has been suspended from his post while officials investigate allegations that he violated police ethics by advising bombing suspect Chriek Mao not to make a confession.
Ouk Sathya, a former lieutenant colonel in the army, surrendered to police last week but has maintained his innocence in the July 4 bombings of the Hong Kong and Favour hotels that killed three and injured 11.
Funcinpec officials said Ouk Sathya was a Funcinpec soldier who abandoned his post after the 1997 factional fighting and became a farmer in Kompong Cham province.
Than Borin, arrested July 10 in Banteay Meanchey province, and Ouk Sathya were charged in Municipal Court Monday, officials said. Police brought Than Borin to Phnom Penh Thursday for questioning, but they were not sure at the time if he would be charged.
Nheth Sarath, deputy chief prosecutor, on Tuesday called Ouk Sathya “the ringleader of the attack.” Police have said he promised $100,000 to the group of men who carried out the attack. The bombings occurred within one hour of each other at hotels along Monivong Boulevard that cater to foreign tourists. Police said the homemade explosives were made from TNT and fertilizer.
Chriek Mao, 31, was the first suspect arrested when police detained him in Kompong Cham province July 8. Police told reporters the next day that Chriek Mao had confessed.
He was charged in Municipal Court on July 10. Six other suspects also were charged that day in absentia. Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Sreng Sreang has been removed from his job pending a thorough investigation.
“He [acted in a way that was] contrary to his role,” Khieu Sopheak said.