Official Says UN Can’t See Ill Suspected CFF Members

Nine suspected members of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters diagnosed with beriberi and at least one al­leged CFF member diagnosed with HIV have not had access to UN or human rights medical teams while awaiting their trial in PJ prison, a UN official said.

The 10 ill inmates are among  28 suspects on trial in Phnom Penh Supreme Court. All are charged with terrorism and membership in an armed force following the failed Nov 24 coup that left at least four people dead.

The nine inmates were diagnosed by a prison doctor with beriberi—a vitamin B deficiency that causes neurological disorders. The HIV-positive suspect was diagnosed 10 days ago after a routine blood test, said Hak Vat, dep­uty director of the prison de­partment.

Hak Vat said the prisons have treated the prisoners with ber­i­beri and although they are getting better, they have not fully re­covered. “We are concerned not only with the CFF suspects diagnosed with beriberi, but with all inmates in the prisons,” a UN official said. The official said the UN is trying to get the suspects medical attention.

Officials from a hu­man rights NGO said prison officials told them they would grant weekly access to the prisoners with ber­i­beri, but Samkol Sophoan, director of prisons, said human rights and UN officials would not receive access to the sick inmates because the prisons use a police clinic on Monivong Boulevard that has adequate facilities.

The sick inmates will receive treatment at that facility if their health becomes worse, he said.

According to human rights officials, two of approximately 52 non-CFF prisoners in PJ prison  also have been diagnosed with beriberi. Twenty-six of the 27 suspected CFF suspects being held at PJ prison have been detained for more than 10 months. By law,  suspects have a right to go to trial within six months after their arrest.

The trial resumes today in Phnom Penh Supreme Court.


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