Chriek Moa, the 31-year-old former soldier arrested Sunday in connection with last week’s bombing of two Phnom Penh hotels, was charged at Phnom Penh Municipal Court Tuesday with terrorism and organizing an illegal armed force.
Ngeth Sarath, deputy chief prosecutor, said Chriek Moa could face life in prison for the terrorism charge, which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years. Under Article 31 of the Untac law, organizing an illegal armed force carries a 3- to 15-year sentence.
Ngeth Sarath said police are pursuing six other suspects in the two July 4 explosions that killed three people and injured 11 at the Hong Kong and Favour hotels on Monivong Boulevard.
Police said Monday they were searching for four other suspects. But Ngeth Sarath said Tuesday that police are now looking for the people who sold the 20 kg of TNT used to make the bombs.
Police said Chriek Moa told them he bought the TNT in June at Phnom Penh’s Phsar Tuk Thla, and then brought it to his home in Kompong Cham province, where another man constructed the bombs.
Chriek Moa will not enter a plea until the court’s investigator completes his investigation, Ngeth Sarath said. Police said Monday that Chriek Moa confessed to planning the bombings.
Meanwhile, Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara said the two hotels should be torn down.
“The buildings are now almost collapsed,” he said.
Yos Chhom Narady, deputy director of urbanization and construction for Phnom Penh, said the Hong Kong Hotel’s foundation was greatly weakened by the first floor blast. At the very least, walls on the top five floors may have to be knocked down to reduce pressure from the building’s weight, he said.
Sin Sok, director of urbanization and construction for Phnom Penh, said the Favour Hotel could be salvaged because the explosion took place on the fourth floor.
(Additional reporting by Matt Reed)