Trial of CFF Suspects Scheduled for June

Twenty-eight suspected members of a rebel group that at­tacked government offices in Nov­ember will be tried next month, Phnom Penh court officials said.

The trial of the suspected Cam­bodian Freedom Fighters will likely take place the second week of June, said investigating Judge Ham Meang Se.

Because of the number of suspects, however, the trial will not be held in the Phnom Penh Mun­icipal Court, where the suspects were charged with terrorism and membership in an illegal armed force. Instead, the trial will be held in the newly refurbished Chak­to­muk Theater, said Ham Meang Se. He added that it took him four months to investigate the 28 cases.

Chaktomuk will also be the site of the planned tribunal of Khmer Rouge leaders.

Included in the group of 28 reb­els to be tried is Richard Kiri Kim, the self-confessed leader of the attack. Kiri Kim is the only Cambodian-American in custody for the Nov 24 raid that left as many as eight dead and a dozen injured.

David Chaniawa, lawyer for Kiri Kim, said he has not been notified of a trial date, but was told it will be soon. Chaniawa said he will argue that authorities have violated the Cambodian law forbidding suspects to be detained for more than six months before a trial. Kiri Kim was arrested Nov 25 at Siem Reap Airport.

Chaniawa also said he has been prohibited from visiting his client since January, but will keep trying to see Kiri Kim before the trial.

The Cambodian Bar Associ­ation has filed a complaint at the Ministry of Interior, stating that lawyers for the CFF suspects should be allowed to see their clients, said Bun Honn, association secretary-general.

Lawyers for CFF suspects must file an application to see their clients, according to an order by the Ministry of Interior. But according to Article 80, law­yers should be allowed to see their clients without filing an application, Bun Honn said.

Chhum Saophea, a lawyer for six CFF suspects, said he was able to see his clients three times shortly after they were arrested. But in recent months, the Min­istry of Interior has become more strict and has prevented him from seeing the prisoners.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said his ministry has never rejected a request from a lawyer to see his client. He added that in the case of the CFF suspects, it is up to the courts to grant law­yers permission to interview their clients in prison, not the Interior Ministry.

More than 50 people suspected of being CFF members have been charged over the past several months. The remaining suspects will be tried in future, court officials said.



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