Evidence Against Muslim Teacher Disputed

A police source close to the case of the Cambodian Muslim teacher arrested last week said Monday that the confiscated Thai and Arabic documents expected to serve as evidence against Sman Esma El are useless.

The documents “are all about pedagogy,” the source said of the papers police took from the suspect’s room. “There was nothing found in the documents about preparations for an attack.”

Chhay Sinarith, deputy police chief of Phnom Penh, said Mon­day he had not yet received a report from case investigators.

Chhay Sinarith said Friday that Sman Esma El was linked to three foreign Muslims who were ar­rested in late May at an Islamic school in Kandal province. The men, two Thais and one Egyp­tian, are ac­cused of having ties to the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.

Sman Esma El “is involved with these three men in various activities and was installed as the link inside Cambodia. He wanted to prepare a plan to hide [those] suspects and produce fake passports for them,” Chhay Sinarith said.

Investigating Judge Oun Bunna said last week that Sman Esma El returned to Cambodia in April after studying for three years at Islamic religious schools in Thailand.

Chhay Sinarith also said Friday that the Kuwaiti Cambodia Mus­lim Orphanage, where the suspect worked in Dangkao district, is not being targeted for closure.

Orphanage Director Sop Yu­soff said Monday that his organization is running normally. He said Friday that Sman Esma El was only a substitute instructor who had taught for just two or three weeks.

“I did not know his personal background well. I only knew that he was a well-educated person and had suitable knowledge to teach the children,” Sop Yusoff said.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Doyle)

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