Koh Kong Provincial Court sentenced five men, accused of being Cambodian Freedom Fighters, to 10 years in prison late last month for an attack on Andung Teuk village in Botum Sakor district.
Mul Nop, Sot Chhang, Ron Voeun, Pich Sun and Chhen Pov were convicted on Sept 23 under Cambodia’s 1992 anti-terrorism law, Koh Kong’s Chief Prosecutor Keo Sim said Sunday.
“They have confessed, and they received money for the terrorism. Their aim was to topple the government,” Keo Sim said.
An explosive device, made of B-40 rockets rigged to a detonator, was discovered on an Andung Teuk ferry on the night of April 10.
Soon afterward, gunfire between the accused rebels and district police broke out, apparently as the five were slipping out of town. Mul Nop was wounded in the leg, but the others escaped, only to be rounded up by police in the following weeks.
The discovered explosive blew apart a wooden police post at
6:30 am on April 11. Police said they had not recognized it was a time bomb. Three officers suffered slight injuries. Later the same day, a second timed explosive was found on the ferry. It was dumped in the river and detonated harmlessly that afternoon.
Four of the men, speaking at the Koh Kong provincial prison in May, told The Cambodia Daily that they had been promised $500 by a man identified only as “Mr Heng” to carry out the attack.
But they said they did not know of the CFF until provincial military police snapped mug shots of them holding placards bearing the name of the outlawed rebel group. The men, poor crabbers, also said they never received payment.
Prosecutor Keo Sim was the first to suggest they were connected to the CFF. Thong Narong, the provincial military police chief whose men arrested Chhen Pov, had said in May that there was not evidence of a connection to the CFF.
Since the CFF took credit for a November 2000 attack in Phnom Penh, human rights groups and other observers have questioned whether the authorities’ prosecutions of alleged CFF members have been used to frame political opponents.
Keo Sim said Sunday that the attack’s mastermind remains at large.
The 1992 anti-terrorism law, adopted by the State of Cambodia regime, initially targeted the Khmer Rouge. Diplomats and observers have labeled it inadequate for today’s terrorist problems, and a new one is currently being drafted.