The lawyer for the self-confessed leader of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters attack on government offices last year said he was able to see his client Friday, the first visit he’s been allowed since January.
Attorney David Chaniawa said he was not allowed to meet privately with Richard Kiri Kim, the only Cambodian-American in custody for the raid. Instead Chaniawa had to talk to Kiri Kim, who was arrested the day after the Nov 24 attack, through a phone with prison guards present.
“I think the prison officials should be replaced for acting like this,” said Chaniawa, who had made repeated attempts to see his client but was always denied access.
The visit comes a little more than a week before the trial of 28 suspected CFF members. That trial is scheduled to take place Monday. The US-based group has claimed responsibility for the attack that left as many as eight dead.
San Ny, a Prey Sar prison official, said Chaniawa said he only wanted to say hello to Kiri Kim and did not specify that he was a lawyer coming to see his client.
San Ny also said he had received instructions from the Interior Ministry to be “careful and very strict about allowing people to see CFF suspects.”
Chaniawa said Kiri Kim plans to tell the court he does not believe he can find justice in the Cambodian judicial system. Chaniawa will argue that officials violated the law that prohibits suspects from being held more than six months before a trial.
Chaniawa has also been appointed by the court to represent CFF leader Chhun Yasith and former CFF executive board member Thong Samien, who will be tried in absentia. Both live in the US state of California.
After the attack, Thong Samien condemned Chhun Yasith and disassociated himself from the raid. Four Cambodian-Americans were charged with terrorism and membership in an illegal armed force.
In an e-mail message in April, Chhun Yasith said his forces had regrouped and he was ready to stage a second attack.