Ten coup plotters were arrested on Tuesday in the capital’s Chak Angre Leu commune for supporting “acting president” Sam Rainsy, within the area of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party’s (CNRP) headquarters.
Rainsy, who lives abroad, has consistently called on Cambodians and the armed forces to stage a coup after he announced his “planned return” to Cambodia on November 9.
Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief Sar Thet said on Wednesday that the police detained 10 security guards from CNRP headquarters and seized documents related to the plot to topple the government.
The 10 arrested are Tim Siev, Tim Someth, Thorn Bunthoeu, Ouk Chanda, Srong, Chuon Sophal, Hok Sam Ang, Nok Oun, Sey Dara and So Dara.
“After questioning, the police will send the 10 coup plotters [the security guards] involved in Rainsy’s plot to topple the government to court on Thursday,” he said.
Thet claimed that the 10 arrested individuals hatched the plot (to receive Rainsy) as stated in related documents seized by the police.
“They mobilised people to wait and receive orders. This is a mistake. He [Rainsy] is not coming to protest or join a democratic election.
“He was charged [in absentia] by the courts. There is enough evidence when you hatch the plot to receive [Rainsy]. You [the arrested] conspire to betray the will of the people,” said Thet.
Arrests were also made elsewhere in relation to Rainsy’s coup plot.
Tuol Kork district police in Phnom Penh detained a man only known as Vichet, 44, on Tuesday, while district police in Sen Sok and Por Sen Chey detained Srey Chandara, 60, and Heng Chan Sothy (age unknown) on Wednesday for mobilising support on behalf of the outlawed CNRP.
Last Friday, Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge Koy Sao had issued the arrest warrant for Chandara who was charged with “plotting and incitement to cause chaos to social security” in Cambodia and other places.
The Embassy of Cambodia in Jakarta also issued a press release on Wednesday about Rainsy’s plot, saying Malaysian authorities had detained two Cambodian CNRP supporters who were trying to board a plane to Bangkok.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak welcomed the arrests made by the Malaysian authorities, but he said the detainees had not yet been handed over to Cambodia.
A Reuters report claimed one of the two Cambodians is an asylum seeker. They were detained on Monday night and were to be deported to their home country the following afternoon.
However, the Malaysian Home Ministry and Immigration Department withdrew the deportation order after an appeal, according to Jerald Joseph of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission.
Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanroth considered the arrest of Rainsy’s “supporters” as a violation of human rights.
“Such arrests scare citizens and will affect Cambodia,” he claimed.
He further claimed that the arrests had worsened the political situation in the Kingdom.
But, Sopheak defended the arrests made by the authorities. He stressed that the arrests were “only an act of law enforcement [against coup plotters] and not a violation of the rights and freedom of the people”.