Families of Convicted CFF Rebels Cry Foul

The families of men convicted last week as rebels in the trial of the Cambodian Freedom Fight­ers say they plan to file appeals on behalf of their relatives because the prison sentences handed down are too long. 

Van Sokha, the daughter of Van Toem, who was sent to pris­on for 20 years, said her father was not involved in the attack on gov­ernment buildings last Nov­ember. “Why is he imprisoned for 20 years in jail?” she asked.

Five of the suspected rebels were given life sentences, while 25 were sent to prison for three to 18 years upon conviction on charg­es of terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism or membership in an illegal armed force. No one has filed an ap­peal for any of the convicted reb­els, said Dann Bophan, the clerk director of the Appeals Court.

At least four people died in the reb­el group’s failed raid on gov­ern­ment buildings Nov 24, ac­cording to the government. The tri­al was condemned by in­­ter­national human rights groups for failing to protect the de­fendants’ right to a fair trial. Van Sokha said her father’s law­­yer was kept from speaking to him before the trial be­gan, making it hard to mount a defense. Liv Sovanna, a law­yer of the Cambodian Defen­ders Pro­ject, said on Monday that he was not given enough time to speak to cli­ents. Chaing Sear Mean, wife of convicted CFF member Ly Chhun Houng, said the trial relied on al­most no evidence.

“They just made an accusation and said he was guilty,” she said. “I will file to the Appeal Court soon and I hope it will not be like the Municipality Court.”



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