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Military trial of general begins

Weapons allegedly found in the possession of Samuth Virak (pictured), former deputy director of the materials department at the Defence Ministry, were displayed yesterday at the military court in Phnom Penh.

The Royal Military Court yesterday began the trial of a general and four other soldiers charged with hiding illegal weapons, enlisting illegal soldiers and duping and inciting people to oppose authority.

General Samuth Virak, former Ministry of Defence deputy director, was arrested in January and stands accused as the mastermind of a criminal plan to operate an illegal armed force.

However, deputy prosecutor Mok Sieha dropped two of the four charges against Samuth Virak during yesterday’s proceedings. Samuth Virak now stands accused of imitating a three-star general and hiding illegal weapons, both offences under the Penal Code.

Samuth Virak’s defence lawyer, Nach Try, blocked the prosecutor’s claims in court yesterday, and said the cumulative offences were not enough to charge his client.

“The prosecutor cannot charge my client [with imitating a three-star general] because my client is displaying a three-star general uniform in his home,” Nach Try said.

“If that is the case, the prosecutor must go down to the spot where all the uniforms are sold at the Toekthla market [on Phnom Penh’s Russian Boulevard],” he said, adding that his client had the correct documentation to possess and use the weapons.

Samuth Virak also gave testimony to the military court.

“I have not acted illegally in society. They accused me by unjustly,” Samuth Virak said. “Please, Judge, find justice for me and release me to feed my children, wife and widow mother.”

“I dare to swear before the effective guardian spirit. If I have acted as accused – let me die,” he said.



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