Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More confess to Kratie ‘secession’

More confess to Kratie ‘secession’

More confess to Kratie ‘secession’

A soldier watches over villagers in Kratie province’s Chhlong district following a violent eviction in May. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Ministry of Interior officials announced yesterday that three more villagers accused of involvement in a “secessionist plot” in Kratie province turned themselves in and confessed their guilt on Saturday, taking advantage of the prime minister’s offer of immunity for those who agree to act as witnesses.

National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said that, so far, a total of six villagers – out of an undisclosed number of accused – have admitted to planning an autonomous zone in Kratie’s Pro Ma village.

“All those villagers will move to be witnesses, and we do not know surely how many more villagers are involved, but it depends on what we hear in court,” he said.

In May, Pro Ma was the site of the forced eviction of hundreds of families involved in a long-running land dispute with agro-business company Casotim – an operation in which a 14-year-old girl was shot dead by government forces.

The government has called the eviction an anti-secessionist raid, despite villagers’ repeated claims that they were simply applying for land titles.

Sok Tong, 61, one of the five alleged secessionists initially accused by the Ministry of Interior who has continued to evade arrest, said that pressure from authorities had elicited this latest round of confessions, and went on to challenge authorities to release proof of their guilt.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen has to show evidence that accuses us of creating an autonomous zone, and what is it?” Tong asked. “How can I admit fault, if I did not do anything wrong as they accused me?”

Tong added that the villagers who already confessed had told him that they did so not because they were guilty, but rather to avoid arrest, and because cooperation seemed like their best shot at having their land returned.

Alleged ringleader Bun Ratha, 32, and his father, Bun Chhorn, 55, are still on the run.

Mam Sonado, president of the Association of Democrats and the director of the Beehive radio station, was arrested on July 15 for allegedly masterminding the secessionist plot.

According to his attorney, Sok Sam Oeun, Sonando is still being detained at Prey Sar prison, and will seek bail again – after being denied once already – in roughly two weeks.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]


  • 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