Suspect: Gov’t Reneged on Immunity Deal

A self-confessed member of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters testified in Phnom Penh Supreme Court Wednesday that high-ranking government officials offered him freedom from prosecution in ex­change for giving information on the CFF to the government.  

Dong Sopheap, a former customs official who says he is a mem­­ber of the CFF, said General Mol Roeup, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s adviser on security and intelligence; Om Yentieng, another Hun Sen adviser; and You Sun Long, security adviser for Hun Sen told Dong Sopheap he would not be tried for CFF-related crimes after he reported on CFF ringleaders.

In an apparent reversal of the government’s promises, he is on trial for the Nov 24 attack against the government that killed at least four. Twenty-seven other CFF suspects are on trial for terrorism and/or membership in an armed force under Article 34 of the Untac law and Article 3 of the state law.

According to court documents and his own testimony, Dong Sopheap fled from Cambodia to Thailand on Nov 25, the day after the CFF attack. On March 20 and March 21, Dong Sopheap and his mother, Chhom Samei, went to the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok, where they met Hun Sen’s three advisers.

During this two-day meeting, the defendant and the government agreed to a deal which would free Dong Sopheap from prosecution in exchange for information and testimony against the CFF heads. This included Chhun Yasith, the CFF leader living in Long Beach, California, and Richard Kiri Kim, who was sentenced to life in prison by the Phnom Penh Supreme Court in June for his CFF-related activities, Dong Sopheap said.

Mol Roeup paid for airline tickets from Bangkok to Phnom Penh for Dong Sopheap and Chhom Samei, Dong Sopheap said. But despite the alleged agreement, Dong Sopheap was arrested three months later on June 11, the day the first group of CFF suspects went to trial.

During Wednesday’s trial, a Phnom Penh Supreme Court clerk read letters from King Norodom Sihanouk and Mol Roeup on Dong Sopheap’s behalf.

The letter from the King, dated Aug 28 and addressed to Iv Tong, minister of justice, stated that the King granted amnesty to Dong Sopheap.

Judge Seth Sethamony questioned how the King could grant amnesty when Dong Sopheap has not yet been convicted of a crime.

The letter written by Mol Roeup was addressed to Investigating Judge Pong Se. The letter said the government acknowledged that Dong Sopheap and the officials made a pact in Thailand that would free him from prosecution after he helped the government.

Mol Roeup and Om Yentieng declined to comment on the case. Om Yentieng said he “knew Dong Sopheap” but would not elaborate. You Sun Long could not be reached Wednesday.

Dong Sopheap was the last of six CFF suspects to testify on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Judge Sek Sethamony called 18 CFF suspects in front of the court while he showed pictures of each suspect to the court. All 18 suspects were accused by An Mao, a CFF member tried and convicted during the June trial, the judge said.

(Additional reporting by Thet Sambath)

 

 

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