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Trio ‘threatened to kill’ Cambodian leadership

Cambodian officials said yesterday that they were calling on US authorities to arrest three Cambodian-American men accused of threatening to kill “Cambodia’s leaders”.

Police organisation Interpol lists the three men – Mao Khoeun, 50; Bona Bumphoath, 44; and Yoeun Samrithy, 49 – as being wanted in Cambodia over the alleged threats.

According to Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak, the threats were made over social media, and Interpol police in the US had identified where the men were living.

“I appeal to Interpol police to arrest them so [they] can face legal action according to Cambodian law,” he told local media, adding that they live in the states of Georgia, Pennsylvania and Washington.

Sopheak couldn’t be reached to elaborate on his comments, but Lay Samantha, deputy director of Interpol police in Cambodia, confirmed that the government had previously requested the US’s cooperation to help find the men.

“I will have to check if [the US] has any response,” he said, declining to elaborate further.

Kep Sovandara, a former Interpol police deputy director who helped prepare the case last year, alleged the three had used social media to make threats on the lives of Cambodia’s leaders during the political deadlock that followed the 2013 election. He declined to say which leaders were said to have been threatened.

“Since moving off this case, I have received no more information,” he said.

According to the News Tribune of Tacoma, Washington, Bumphoath was sentenced to community service and home detention in April for unlawfully trafficking fish and wildlife. One investigator called him “one of the largest illegal wildlife traffickers” in the state’s history.

On his Facebook page, Bunphoath has a number of posts relating to the Cambodia National Rescue Party, including a photo of himself posing with Kem Mona, daughter of CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha.

Asked yesterday whether the three men had any formal connection to the party, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann declined to comment in detail.

“I’m not aware of this case,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHANE WORRELL

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