Lawyer: Release Suspected Islamic Militants

Three men suspected of be­long­ing to the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah made a brief appearance at the Appeals Court on Mon­day, as their lawyer called for their release, long after their legal pre­trial detention period had passed.

Lawyer Kao Soupha decried the case against his clients as riddled with irregularities. Though Cam­bodian law does not allow anyone to be jailed for more than six months without trial, the two Thai nationals and one Egyptian suspect have been detained for nearly 19 months without prosecution.

“The police arrested my clients on May 25, 2003 without specific reason,” Kao Soupha said.

During the half-hour session Monday morning, Appeals Court Judge Saly Theara said he would announce this morning whether the three men will be released on bail. They have been charged under Cambodia’s terrorism law, under Article 2, pertaining to attempted murder.

In a court hearing in February, an official with the US Federal Bureau of Inves­tigation testified that he had received information that Jemaah Islamiyah planned to attack the US and British em­bassies in Phnom Penh.

But the court has yet to produce evidence linking the suspects to a crime.

Thai suspect Abdul Azi Haji Chiming, who appeared with his fellow national Muhammad Yala­ludin Mading and Egyptian Esam Mohammed Khidr Ali, maintained his innocence Mon­day and told reporters at the court­house that he is optimistic the Appeals Court would grant his release.

“I hope we will be freed tomorrow, because the court does not have any evidence to accuse us,” he said. The Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh is helping in the case. “I know we are the victims,” he added.

Abdul Azi Haji Chiming said the three men, who have been detained in PJ prison, were being treated well.

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