Alleged Assassin Recants

The alleged triggerman in the 1996 murder of the second prime minister’s brother-in-law recanted his confession Friday at the Ap­peals Court, claiming he had told police he fired the fatal shots only because he feared for his life.

“I committed no wrong, but I want­ed to save my life,” Suos Ka­sem told the judge. “If I hadn’t giv­en the statement I did, [the police] would have killed me and I could not have been here in the appeal court right now.”

The judge was listening to an ap­peal against Srung Vong Van­nak’s conviction for the murder of Interior Ministry official Kov Sa­muth, the brother of Hun Sen’s wife.

The Appeals Court judge ad­journed the hearing Friday morning before listening to the testimony of the two other appellants, Vannak and Prum Meanrith, saying that further evidence must be sought before he can make a decisive ruling.

Suos Kasem told the judge that police had forcibly taken him to scene of the murder and coerced him into confessing to the killing.

When asked by the court to produce evidence to support his claim, Suos Kasem said the only pos­­­sible witnesses were the policemen responsible for forcing the confession. The judge order­ed a lawyer to be appointed on Suos Kasem’s be­half, in order to prepare for the next hearing.

Vannak, a member of Sam Rain­sy’s political party, was also con­­­victed on Sept 9, on the strength of the confessions by Suos Kasem and Prum Meanrith that they had carried out the hit under his instructions. Vannak also confessed to hiring the two, but later recanted, say­ing he was coerced into con­fes­sing because he believed his life was in danger. He was sen­tenc­ed to 13 years. Suos Ka­sem and Prum Meanrith re­ceived sentences of 15 and 10 years respectively.

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