Citing a lack of evidence and excessive pretrial detention, lawyers for 28 suspected Cambodian Freedom Fighters requested Thursday that Phnom Penh’s Supreme Court drop all charges against their clients.
Nget Sarath, the prosecuting judge, has failed to provide compelling evidence that would justify convicting CFF suspects, relying primarily on a convicted CFF member’s questionable identification of the suspects now standing trial, defense lawyers said.
“The prosecutor has shown no documents that prove my clients were guilty of being CFF members, and in some cases the military police had no arrest warrants to arrest the defendants, so we request that the prosecuting judge drop all charges,” said Puth Theavy, who is representing 10 of the defendants.
The courts charged all 28 defendants with membership in an armed group and/or terrorism for the Nov 24 attack in Phnom Penh that left at least four dead.
According to Ket Thy, a lawyer representing alleged CFF member Tuy Ra, one piece of evidence against his client was the statement by An Mao, a CFF member who was tried and convicted in June. On Wednesday, Judge Sek Sethamony showed photographs of 18 suspected CFF members to the court and claimed that An Mao identified each defendant as a CFF member.
An Mao’s recognition of the suspects doesn’t seal their guilt because “An Mao is just one man, and he is already in prison, so we cannot believe him,” Ket Thy said. He added that Tuy Ra was not on a list of alleged CFF members compiled by convicted CFF member Richard Kiri Kim.
Liv Sovanna, a lawyer representing two CFF suspects, said his clients should be released because the government detained them for more than 10 months without trial.
Under Article 14 of the Untac Penal Code, suspects can be detained for up to six months. After that time, they must be released on bail or have their charges dropped if the courts have not tried them.
Six other defense lawyers also requested dismissals based on the excessive pretrial detention. Twenty-six of the 28 defendants have been detained for more than six months.
Meanwhile, the attorney for Tep Simoly—the suspect who testified that he was an informant working for the Ministry of Defense—demanded that the courts call a military official to testify that her client was indeed a government agent.
“My client is a CFF informant and the courts must call [Deputy Commander of Intelligence for the Ministry of Defense] Hour Sareth to testify,” said defense attorney Sinn Sovorn.
Sek Sethamony said the court sent a letter to Hour Sareth requesting his presence in the court, but on Wednesday, the courts received a reply from Hour Sareth saying he was too busy to attend.