Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Court drops CNN hero’s illegal weapons charges




Court drops CNN hero’s illegal weapons charges

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian deminer Aki Ra stands proudly at the main entrance of his private museum decorated with the defused landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Khnar Sanday commune’s Khnar village in Siem Reap province’s Banteay Srei district. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP

Court drops CNN hero’s illegal weapons charges

The Siem Reap provincial court has dropped the “weapon possession” charges against CNN hero Aki Ra, leaving the Cambodian Landmine Museum free to reopen on Thursday, a court official said.

Siem Reap provincial court spokesperson Yin Srang told The Post that the investigating judge on Wednesday dropped the charges against Aki Ra and two of his colleagues.

“The investigating judge decided on December 26 to lift the court verdict described in the bail decision, and allowed the landmine museum to reopen following a request from the suspects,” Srang said.

Aki Ra confirmed to The Post on Wednesday that he had received notice from the court.

“We have received a letter. We are preparing a housewarming ceremony, to open the doors and clean the rubbish after the place was closed for three months."

“[The court has] dropped the charges against me. They gave me a letter and I read it. It said [the charges] were dropped and [we are] allowed to reopen the museum. I got the letter from the judge at noon,” he said.

Aki Ra, along with executive director Hanh Sokunthea and deputy director Eoun Yun, were charged with illegal weapon possession after a fire broke out in late August at a small warehouse 150m behind the landmine museum in Siem Reap province’s Banteay Srei district.

After responding to the fire, provincial authorities found nine grenades, 15 “72A” mines, 325 bullets, six broken machine guns, two cases of anti-tank mine shells, a grenade crate and a case of detonation cord, among other items.

Aki Ra said they were war remnants being temporarily stored at the warehouse before being destroyed.

Ly Thuch, senior minister and vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) warmly welcomed the court decision.

“On behalf of the CMAA across the country, I am happy and congratulate the Siem Reap court’s decision. We are grateful for all cooperation which led to the reopening of the museum."

“At the same time, I am sorry that an incident happened. CMAA has strengthened monitoring measures to avoid such incidents in the future,” Thuch said by telephone on Wednesday.

“We highly value this cooperation and hope the museum runs smoothly from now on,” he said.

Aki Ra has extracted approximately 50,000 mines in Cambodia. In 2010, he was named a CNN top 10 hero, also receiving the 2012 Manhae Prize awarded by the Manhae Foundation in South Korea.

Correction: Siem Reap provincial court spokesperson on Thursday explained that Aki Ra charges have not been dropped and the judge is continuing the investigation. However, the museum was permitted to be open.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped

  • Kingdom, China rebut basis for US sanctions

    The Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Tianjin Union Investment Development Group Co Ltd (Tianjin) have responded to US sanctions on Union Development Group Co Ltd (UDG), a Chinese-owned company currently developing the sprawling $3.8 billion Dara

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • Influenza breaks out in eight provinces

    Nearly 600 people have been infected with influenza in eight provinces in the past month, Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said. The ministry is advising extreme caution. A report released by Vandine on Saturday said the Ministry of Health observed transmissions of influenza between August 15