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Trial Wraps Up for Bomb Plot Suspects

Five men accused of planting bombs outside key government buildings earlier this year were back in court Tuesday, with defense arguing all charges should be dropped against them.

A defense lawyer told the court the men belong to a political movement called the Cambodian United Front, but there is no evidence linking them to a militant organization, called the Tiger Head.

Prosecutors say the Tiger Head was the military component of a movement assembled to commit acts of terror.

The five suspects are Som Ek, 49; Loek Bun Nhien, 48; Hy Savoeung, 49; Poa Vannara, 59; and Chea Kimyan, 45.

“All five were involved with the [Tiger Head] movement to establish armed forces and to plant bombs to make unrest and to oppose the government,” Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Hoeung Bunchea told the court Tuesday.

The men are also accused of detonating a small bomb near the Vietnamese Friendship Monument in 2007, near what was then the National Assembly building.

They were arrested shortly after officials found explosive devices outside the Ministry of Defense and the government-run TV3 station on Jan. 2 this year.

Som Ek, the accused ringleader of the group, told the court Tuesday he was “completely responsible” for establishing the Cambodian United Front, but he said it was meant as a “political party” aimed at defeating the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in the 2012 national election.

He conceded that the United Front included a plan for a military wing, called the Tiger Head, but he denied the militant wing existed now or was involved in terrorist plots.

Tuesday’s hearing concluded three days of trial spread over several weeks. A decision is expected Dec. 30. If found guilty, the men face jail sentences from 20 years to life.