Khmer Krom Buddhist monk Thach Kuong (C) leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Saturday. Kuong and five others have been charged with creating an armed terrorist organisation. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
Six Khmer Krom men, including three Buddhist monks, were charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Saturday with creating an armed terrorist organisation.
The charges came two days after Thai authorities arrested the men — who had been seeking political asylum in Thailand — and sent them to Cambodia.
Chea Vuthy, an internal sec-urity officer at the Ministry of Interior, said the six had been charged with forming a terrorist group and unlawfully raising an armed force.
“These six men were members of an illegal armed movement called the Khmer Nat-ional Liberation Front,” Vuthy told the Post yesterday.
“They were arrested by Cambodian internal security police in collaboration with Thai police in Thailand’s Nonthaburi province.”
The men — Yorn Kimsrun, 27, Yorn Yoeub, 25, Thach Kuong, 37, all monks, and laymen Khem Ma, 28, Yin Yav, 34, and Thach Toeu, 35, were arrested on Thursday and handed to Cambodian police on Friday.
Their arrest follows the arrest of two others charged last week with the same crime.
If found guilty, they could face 15 to 30 years in prison.
National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said warrants had been issued for the group’s arrest last year after they allegedly distributed anti-government leaflets. In the material, the group had written about forming an armed movement aimed at toppling the Cambodian government, Chantharith said.
All six are members of a Denmark-based dissident group, the Khmer National Liberation Front.
Its president, Sam Serey, wrote in an open letter that the men had been seeking asylum with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
“They are asylum-seekers in Thailand,” Serey wrote in an email. “[We] would like to reject all the government’s allegation[s]... My members are arrested because they are members of the Khmer National Liberation Front.”
With assistance from Abby Seiff