The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday continued the case against 13 people accused of collecting arms to topple the government.
The suspects were arrested by the Ministry of Interior’s Criminal Department in September 2018 in Phnom Penh, Kampot, Pursat and Kampong Cham provinces. Twenty-five AK-47 rifles and other arms were seized during the arrests.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court placed the accused in pre-trial detention on charges of assembling armed people and keeping weapons illegally under articles 485, 486 and 488 of the Criminal Code.
Twelve of the 13 arrested and 10 defence lawyers attended the hearing on Tuesday.
On Monday, one of the accused, Peng Ra, 45, denied the charges against him.
He said Peng Sokha, another accused and the owner of the farm where one of the AK-47s was found, was his brother-in-law but claimed he did not know any of the other accused.
Ra, who is a farmer in Kampot province’s Chhouk district, said Sokha owned a cashew plantation near his farm.
He said after the police found the rifle in Sokha’s farm and arrested one of the workers, he fled to Kampong Cham province for fear of being arrested. He later went to Phnom Penh to stay at Sokha’s house for two days.
He was arrested on October 19, 2018.
“I have never been involved in any attempt to topple the government. I went to Kampong Cham to visit my sick mother and to Phnom Penh to bring my child to the hospital. I never went to Thailand,” he said.
Judge Sor Lina explained that she asked the question to verify his answer matches what he told the police upon his arrest. “You can answer whatever you want. The court will decide if it believes you or not,” she said.
After Ra, Sieng Vandoeun, another suspect, was questioned. He also denied the charges.
Judge Lina said the hearing will reconvene on Friday.