Four People Charged in Anti-Government Case

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged four people Mon­day with establishing an anti-government group and planting bombs in public places, Deputy Prosecutor Hing Bunchea said.

Hing Bunchea told reporters that Mondolkiri province’s former police chief Reach Samnang, former RCAF intelligence officers Phy Saving, Som Ek, and RCAF soldier Loek Bun Nhean, were charged with “conscripting and training terrorist forces and planting explosives in public places.”

Hing Bunchea said that he didn’t know the ages of the suspects, and he declined to elaborate on the charges or evidence against the men. Police, who said that all four suspects were arrested last week, announced Sunday that Som Ek is accused of being a member of the long-dormant Cambodian Freedom fighters and being party to the planting of bombs, which did not explode, at the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument in Phnom Penh in July 2007.

He is also alleged to have been behind the planting of small explosive devices near the Defense Ministry and the TV3 station Jan 2.

Mondolkiri’s Governor Lay Sokha said on Sunday that his province’s former police chief and once Fun­cinpec member, Reach Sam­nang, had been arrested for alleged membership in the so-called Tiger Head Movement. The Tiger Head is an obscure and supposed anti-government group that authorities say is linked to the Jan 2 planting of the two small explosive devices that were safely detonated.

At the municipal court Mon­day, Prom Thavy, the wife of suspect Phy Saving, said that police and court officials had searched her home on Saturday for evidence of his alleged crimes but found nothing.

She also said that police had threatened to detain her for not providing them with any pictures of Phy Saving wearing camouflage military fatigues.

Several pictures of men in new and matching camouflage uniforms and hats, standing to pose, with no attempt to hide their identities, in the forest, were shown to reporters Sunday at the Interior Ministry as proof of the existence of the anti-government plot.

Chan Soveth, chief of monitoring for the local rights group Adhoc, said his organization will provide a lawyer for the suspects.

Reach Samnang, 50, was arrested late Thursday night and quickly brought to Phnom Penh, according to Sam Sarin, a monitor with local rights group Adhoc in Mondolkiri.

Sam Sarin said Monday that he spoke to Reach Samnang’s wife, Hang Mary, and “she told me that [police] didn’t tell her anything.”

Hang Mary concluded that her husband had been arrested when police officers showed up at her home with her husband’s watch, ring and motorbike, Sam Sarin said.

Police are also now investigating an explosion on a rural dirt road in Kampot province Jan 6, Dang Tong District police chief Touch Don said.

Touch Don said the explosive was made from gunpowder and a container about the size of a small water bottle, and that the resulting explosion did not injure anyone.

Police don’t have any suspects, and there is no proof yet that the Kampot province device is related to the de­vices found in Phnom Penh on Jan 2, Touch Don said.

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