Tiger Head Movement Terrorist Suspects Continue Trial

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday continued the trial of five members of the so-called Tiger Head Movement, who are accused of planting bombs in the capital early last year, after the case was kicked back to an investigating judge in December 2009.

The suspects are accused of planting small bombs outside the Defense Ministry and near the TV3 television studio in January 2009, and of recruiting and training terrorists. They have been in prison since their arrests in January 2009.

The suspects–Chea Kimyan, 45, Som Ek, 49, Phy Saving, 49, Pov Vannara, 57, Loeuk Bunnhean, 49-all appeared in court, but testimony from two witnesses, both advisers to the National Defense Ministry, focused on Mr Bunnhean, who is a former adviser to the ministry.

According to court records, authorities found a notebook in Mr Bunnhean’s room allegedly containing a handwritten plan to kill Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2006. Mr Bunnhean denied writing the plan, but admitted to spying on the Tiger Head Movement for the Ministry of Defense.

Sem Aknousanak testified that he wrote the plan in the notebook as part of an investigation into terrorists plotting to kill the premier, and that he presented the information he had gleaned to superiors in June 2008.

“I am the writer [of the plan] in the notebook,” Mr Aknousanak said.

Lov Rechana told the court that she worked with Mr Bunnhean, but said she did not know what he was working on outside of the Tiger Head investigation.

Deputy prosecutor Hing Bunchea said that although both of Friday’s witnesses were unaware of Mr Bunnhean’s alleged involvement in the bomb plot, he was still confident that he had enough evidence to pursue the case.

“Although he denied committing the crimes, he doesn’t have enough evidence to prove he didn’t do it, so I uphold the decision to charge him,” he said.

All five suspects face between 20 to 30 years in prison. Presiding Judge Din Sivuthy said a verdict would be announced on Oct 1.

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