Released Pair Still Suspects In Attack

Authorities said they will continue to pursue two Sam Rainsy Party members suspected in the 1998 Siem Reap rocket attack but released Monday after court officials determined there was not enough evidence to take the case to trial.

Hour Sareth, the military intelligence research unit’s deputy director, said Tuesday that he has enough evidence against Mong Davuth and Kong Bun Heang to keep them in custody, calling his investigation “70 percent complete” but declining to say what that evidence was.

The pair, who were arrested last September, were released from military prison on Monday, just days before the end of the six-month pre-trial detention period allowed by law.

“I do not agree with the court’s decision to release [Mong Davuth and Kong Bun Heang]

….We are still watching them,” Hour Sareth said Tuesday.

Though they are currently free, charges against the pair that they tried to assassinate Prime Mini­ster Hun Sen have not been dropped, according to military court judge Ney Thol.

They could face rearrest if additional evidence is found that implicates them in the attack, Ney Thol said only hours after Mong Davuth and Kong Bun Heang were driven quietly from prison to their lawyer’s house Monday.

Hour Sareth also said an in­creasingly strong case is being built against a third opposition party member now jailed in Thailand for immigration law violations.

Sok Yeoun fled across the border shortly after he became a suspect in the attack late last year. The Cambodian government has engaged in its first-ever extradition talks with Thailand to bring him back, though no recent decision has been made by the Thais on the case.

Though Hour Sareth claims to have a videotaped confession from Sok Yeoun, both human rights workers and opposition party members have dismissed this as being coerced.

They have also been generally critical of Hour Sareth’s total evidence in the case—de­scribed by him as more recorded confessions and Sam Rainsy Party documents detailing the attack.

It remains unclear who ordered the release of Mong Davuth and Kong Bun Heang, though Sam Rainsy Party members and human rights workers maintain it was more a cosmetic gesture made by high government officials rather than the courts.

Anticipating heavy international scrutiny of the country’s judicial system with the approach of the Khmer Rouge trial, officials are merely using the release as leverage for a more Cambodian-controlled prosecution of former Khmer Rouge leaders, an opposition party official said.

“They are trying to show that the courts are independent but already [the judiciary’s] reputation has been damaged,” said Sam Rainsy Party Treasurer Yim Sovann.

“The case…is very well-known.”




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