The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear an appeal against the 2004 terrorism convictions of a Cambodian Cham Muslim and two Thai nationals arrested in a supposed plot to bomb two embassies in Phnom Penh, Supreme Court Judge Chhim Sophal confirmed Monday.
Abdul Azi Haji Chiming and Muhammad Yalaludin Mading, both Thai Muslims, and Cambodian Sman Esma El were given life sentences in December 2004 for being party to an alleged plot by the militant Islamic group Jemaah Islamiyah to attack the British and US embassies in Phnom Penh.
Kao Soupha, attorney for the three men, said Monday that he hoped the Supreme Court would come to their decision in accordance with the law, adding that the municipal and Appeal Court did not have enough evidence to convict his clients.
“If the Supreme Court is absolutely independent, it should decide to release them,” he said. “They should not uphold the [previous] decisions.”
Kao Soupha claimed that pressure from the US had helped put his clients in prison. He also called for greater support for his clients from the NGO sector, which he accused of being silent on the matter because of influence from US donors.
The two Thai men were initially arrested in 2003 for their alleged JI links based on information provided by the US government. Sman Esma El was arrested a month later.
US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle described the convictions of the three men as a “notable counterterrorism accomplishment for Cambodia.”
“These convictions were the result of the workings of the Cambodian legal system,” he wrote.
Adhoc President Thun Saray and Licadho President Kek Galabru both denied that they were ignoring the case, or were influenced in any way by the US.
Thun Saray said Adhoc had been denied access to files and faced many other difficulties when they tried to investigate the case.
“It is not important whether or not we receive US money,” he said. “What is important is that we don’t have evidence in this case [to clear the men].”
Kek Galabru said it was difficult to investigate a terrorism case.
“Even though we did not investigate this case, we want to see an unbiased Supreme Court find justice for them,” she added.