Leaders and members of a clandestine army that planned to overthrow the government were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 to 17 years yesterday by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
The former opposition Sam Rainsy Party members – some of whom have confessed their guilt – claim to have received US$20 million from the Taiwanese government to overthrow the Cambodian government.
Presiding judge Duch Kimsorn told the court the six members of the “Sovannaphumi Army Movement” had been found guilty.
“Based on the hearing, the court has found they are guilty because they really were involved in forming an illegal armed movement against the government,” he said.
The Sovannaphumi Army Movement’s president and general commander, 49-year-old Chea Sarann, was handed a 17-year sentence.
Chief of the bodyguard unit, Liv Sok Sovann, 49, and chief of staff Chum Vichey, 42, received 15-year prison terms.
Three rank-and-file members, Phlot Vy, 62, Yorm Hev, 41, and Poth Phorn, 46, were also sentenced to 15 years in jail.
Chea Sarann said after the verdict that although he was guilty, he would appeal against the length of the sentence, saying the real man behind the plot was former SRP member Thab The.
“I have recognised that I had been involved with the establishment of the Sovannaphumi Army in Cambodia, but I do not accept the court’s sent-ence because it is very heavy for me. I will appeal it at the court,” he said.
“The purpose of the Sovannaphumi Army Movement was to earn US$20 million in aid from the Taiwanese government as well as to seek aid from other foreign countries. It was also to overthrow and change the current leadership in Cambodia.”
Chea Sarann said that since the establishment of the movement in 2006, he had never recruited any troops, confining the army to six members.
A spokesperson at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand has previously stated that the Taiwanese government “has never interfered with, or got involved in, the internal affairs of other countries”.
Phlot Vy, a teacher by trade who said he would appeal against the verdict, said he was actually an informant commissioned by a man named Pheng Dima at the Council of Ministers to spy on the movements of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, told the Post he had never heard of Pheng Dima.