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Five Men Sentenced in Monument Bombing

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday sentenced five men between 15 and 17 years in prison for the attempted bombing of a monument in Phnom Penh in July 2007.

Kin Toeurn, 53, Sok Kim Sovat, 51, Soeng Khang, 42, Lim Phen, 32, and Soeng Vy, 31, were each fined 500,000 riel, about $125, in addition to their jail sentences, lawyers said.

Judge Suon Samnang, who presided over the case, said three men were sentenced to 14 years under the charge of terrorism and received an extra year and the fine for the illegal use of explosives. Two other men were sentenced to 16 years for conspiracy to commit terrorism, plus a year and a fine for illegal use of explosives.

The charges stem from a July 29, 2007, attempt to blow up the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument, which overlooks a park in Phnom Penh's Daun Penh district. After one trigger explosion, police found three unexploded buckets of chemical fertilizer. No one was injured and no property was damaged.

The five men were apprehended within days of the event.

Four of the five belonged to the Khmer Kampuchea Krom ethnic group, lawyers said.

At least two of the men were beaten in police custody and forced to sign a confession, according to the lawyers, Khun Sovanrithy and Lueurn Sovann, who work for the Cambodian Defenders Project.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak denied the accusation.

"It is not surprising, because when they lose the case, they always accuse the police of doing that," he said. "But in general, we have never done like that."