Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KNLF ‘plotters’ tried

KNLF ‘plotters’ tried

Members of the Khmer National Liberation Front board a prison transport truck yesterday after their hearing in Phnom Penh.
Members of the Khmer National Liberation Front board a prison transport truck yesterday after their hearing in Phnom Penh. Niem Chheng

KNLF ‘plotters’ tried

Ten members of the Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF) charged with “plotting” over a planned protest at the Vietnamese Embassy two years ago appeared in court yesterday, with six requesting leniency after defecting to the ruling CPP.

The men were arrested on October 22 and 23, 2014, with merchandise such as caps and banners that they planned to bring to a protest calling for the Vietnamese to respect the Paris Peace Accords, which put an end to Cambodia’s decades-long civil war in October 1991.

Authorities have not explained how the protest plans constituted “plotting” – a charge defined as “a resolution . . . to commit an attack” that threatens state institutions – and at yesterday’s hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, defence lawyer Neang Hay called for the charges against the 10 to be dropped as there was no evidence to support them. Mon Vimean Champa, lawyer for Sam Serey, the self-exiled leader of the KNLF, who was being tried for the same charges, made the same argument.

However, Phnom Penh deputy municipal police chief Sim Vuthy, who led the arrests in 2014, testified that he believed the charges were justified because the 10 on trial were named “ministers” in a government-in-exile created in Denmark on October 23 this year.

While four of the accused denied being KNLF members or plotting anything more than a peaceful protest, the six others pleaded for leniency, explaining that Suth Dina – the jailed former ambassador to South Korea who is awaiting trial for corruption – persuaded them in prison to join the ruling party.

“I met Suth Dina, and he explained it to me, and I decided to support the CPP,” said 24-year-old Chhun Chhat, who admitted to being a member of the KNLF. “I strongly deny what Sam Serey said – that we were ministers for something.

“I would like to file a complaint against Sam Serey and [opposition leader] Sam Rainsy for $1 million. I would like to be the surviving witness to . . . explain to the public that the courts are not corrupt.”

Speaking from Denmark, Serey, who has denied claims his group is a terrorist organisation, said he could not fault his members for defecting.

“It is their right, because they want to be released. I have no ability to help them to be released, so it’s their decision,” he said. “The CPP tells them they have to do this if they want to be released.”

However, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said that it would not help them secure a release.

“When they are in jail, they come and support the CPP. They are clever,” Eysan said, questioning the motivations of the KNLF turncoats. “Why didn’t they join before committing their crimes?”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all