Banteay Meanchey provincial court on Friday sentenced a convicted Cambodian Freedom Fighter to serve one year in prison for his membership in the rebel group responsible for the Nov 24, 2000 attack on the capital, a court official said Sunday.
The court sentenced Chhom Tom, who admitted to accepting money from CFF recruits, to serve only one year because he was not involved in either the attack or any of the subsequent bombings on embassies and government buildings for which the CFF is accused, said defense attorney Bun Rithy.
“My client confessed to taking money from the CFF, but he did not know the meaning of CFF and was not involved in any attacks,” Bun Rithy said.
Banteay Meanchey Court Deputy Director Kem Son confirmed Sunday that the court convicted Chhom Tom of membership in an armed force and sentenced him to serve one year in prison.
Meanwhile, the Cambodian Embassy in Washington has been pressing US authorities to thoroughly investigate Chhun Yasith, the confessed leader of the CFF who lives in Long Beach in the US state of California. Chhun Yasith was tried in Phnom Penh in absentia last year and sentenced to life in prison for his part in the attack.
“[The Cambodian government] has asked the [US Federal Bureau of Investigation] to investigate these groups several times,” Vanyuang Tan, an official with the Cambodian Embassy in Washington, recently told the American Prospect magazine.
“We handed over weapons used by the CFF, documents found in Cambodia naming CFF members in the United States. How can America focus on terrorism and not care about these exile groups?” Vanyuang Tan said.
According to Chhun Yasith, the US authorities have not asked him for any information recently.
“I did not receive any letter, notice, warrant or invitation to appear or answer any questions in front [of] or before a grand jury at all—it is very quiet to hear from any FBI or any authority at all,” writes Chhun Yasith in an e-mail sent late Thursday.
In the days after the Sept 11 attacks in the US, Chhun Yasith said the FBI stormed his office and confiscated files from his Long Beach accounting office. He said the US authorities have contacted him since then.
Funcinpec National Assembly lawmaker Ok Socheat, secretary general of the assembly’s Foreign Affairs Commission, said Thursday that National Police Director- General Hok Lundy went to the US in April specifically to ask the US to hand Chhun Yasith over to the Cambodian government. The US, however, refused to comply, Ok Socheat said.
Hok Lundy could not be reached for comment.