Terror Trial Delayed for Lack of Evidence

The trial of three foreigners and one Cambodian man charged with terrorist acts linked to the regional militant group Jemaah Islamiyah will not take place until the courts have sufficient evidence, a court prosecutor said Wednesday.

Ham Meng Se, Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor, said documents passed from an investigating judge did not add up to con­clusive evidence. Though Cam­bodian law stipulates that suspects must stand trial within six months of their arrest, the four men will remain behind bars while the investigation continues.

“We will not set a trial date until there is sufficient evidence,” Ham Meng Se said. “It is related to in­ternational terrorism so we must review it carefully.”

Oun Bunna, investigating judge, announced earlier this week that his work on the case was completed within the six-month pre-trial detention period, and the case files were transferred to the prosecutor.

Lawyers representing the four suspects were outraged.

Thai Muslims Abdul Azi Haji Chiming, 35, and Muhammad Yalaludin Mading, 41, and Egyp­tian Esam Mohammed Khidr Ali, 40, were charged in May with terrorism and having links to Jemaah Islamiyah. Police also closed two Islamic schools where the three worked.

Cambodian Sman Esma El, an ethnic Cham, was arrested in June on similar charges. Sman Esma El had returned to Cambo­dia in April after studying for three years at Islamic schools in southern Thailand. He was working as a teacher at a Kuwaiti-funded orphanage in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district.

Cambodian officials said the arrests followed information provided by the US government.

Kao Soupha, the lawyer representing the Thai and Egyptian suspects, accused court officials on Wednesday of illegally detaining his clients.

Nach Try, the lawyer representing Sman Esma El, also accused the court of breaking its own laws.

Ham Meng Se defended his decision, saying detention be­yond the legal limit is necessary in some cases.


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