Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More confess to Kratie ‘secession’

More confess to Kratie ‘secession’

More confess to Kratie ‘secession’

120723_02
A soldier watches over villagers in Kratie province’s Chhlong district following a violent eviction in May. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Ministry of Interior officials announced yesterday that three more villagers accused of involvement in a “secessionist plot” in Kratie province turned themselves in and confessed their guilt on Saturday, taking advantage of the prime minister’s offer of immunity for those who agree to act as witnesses.

National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said that, so far, a total of six villagers – out of an undisclosed number of accused – have admitted to planning an autonomous zone in Kratie’s Pro Ma village.

“All those villagers will move to be witnesses, and we do not know surely how many more villagers are involved, but it depends on what we hear in court,” he said.

In May, Pro Ma was the site of the forced eviction of hundreds of families involved in a long-running land dispute with agro-business company Casotim – an operation in which a 14-year-old girl was shot dead by government forces.

The government has called the eviction an anti-secessionist raid, despite villagers’ repeated claims that they were simply applying for land titles.

Sok Tong, 61, one of the five alleged secessionists initially accused by the Ministry of Interior who has continued to evade arrest, said that pressure from authorities had elicited this latest round of confessions, and went on to challenge authorities to release proof of their guilt.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen has to show evidence that accuses us of creating an autonomous zone, and what is it?” Tong asked. “How can I admit fault, if I did not do anything wrong as they accused me?”

Tong added that the villagers who already confessed had told him that they did so not because they were guilty, but rather to avoid arrest, and because cooperation seemed like their best shot at having their land returned.

Alleged ringleader Bun Ratha, 32, and his father, Bun Chhorn, 55, are still on the run.

Mam Sonado, president of the Association of Democrats and the director of the Beehive radio station, was arrested on July 15 for allegedly masterminding the secessionist plot.

According to his attorney, Sok Sam Oeun, Sonando is still being detained at Prey Sar prison, and will seek bail again – after being denied once already – in roughly two weeks.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • We’re going to Wisney World!

    More than 6,000 mostly Chinese attendees witnessed the inauguration ceremony of a $1 billion Sihanoukville resort project called Wisney World in the capital on Wednesday. The event on Koh Pich, attended by several senior Cambodian government officials, is a joint venture between China’s AMC International and

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,