Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Torture alleged in ‘conspiracy’ case

Torture alleged in ‘conspiracy’ case

Khmer Krom Buddhist monk Thach Koung leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court last year
Khmer Krom Buddhist monk Thach Koung leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court last year. Heng Chivoan

Torture alleged in ‘conspiracy’ case

A group of men who were originally charged with running an armed “terrorist” group and now stand accused of conspiring to topple the Cambodian government have been tortured and held illegally, lawyers and a minority rights group said yesterday.

Ang Chanrith, director of the Minority Rights Organization (MIRO), said the three Khmer Krom and four Cambodian nationals, some of them monks, will stand trial tomorrow accused of “providing a foreign state with means to undertake hostilities and aggression”.

“Two of seven were tortured and forced to confess in police custody,” Chanrith said of two of the Khmer men.

The men – Yong Kim Srun, 27; Yean Yeap, 25; Thach Koung, 37; Khe Ma, 28; Thach Keu, 52; Yin Yav, 55; and Soun Thol, 56 – were arrested in Thailand in March 2013 and stand accused of creating an armed terrorist group.

According to MIRO, this charge “could not be upheld” and was changed to “delivering equipment for national defence to a foreign state.” It was later altered to the charge of “conspiracy”.

“MIRO believes that these repeated modifications of charges signify the lack of credible proof for an existing criminal offence,” a statement released yesterday said.

Chanrith said that four of the men are also charged with illegally crossing the border.

“How can they be charged for crossing into Cambodia? They are Khmer,” he said.

Sam Sokong, a defence lawyer for two of the Khmer Krom detainees, Kim Srun and Thol, said his clients have been illegally detained.

“Although there is a procedure that the court may detain them longer than six months, [by law], we [the lawyers] should have been informed. I have not received a letter from the court,” he said.

The defendants are members of Denmark-based dissident group the Khmer National Liberation Front.

According to Sokong, six others accused under the same charges, including KNLF president Sam Serey, are at large.

When asked last night about the charges, Serey said “what the government says is not true” and he and his “5,000 members” simply “campaign for freedom and democracy”.

“I have [just] tried to create a network to help change the policies of the government,” he said, adding that he has no plans to return to Cambodia to face the charges.

MOST VIEWED

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said

  • Preah Sihanouk beach developments halted

    After receiving an order from Hun Sen, Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara led a team of experts and relevant officials to Sihanoukville to call a halt to the illegal development of a beach. The prime minister ordered the Prek Treng beach in Otres commune

  • CPP: ‘Behave or Sokha suffers’

    The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman warned Kem Monovithya on Thursday that her attempt to damage “national reputation and prestige” would lead to her father, Kem Sokha, receiving even harsher punishment. Sok Eysan issued the warning as Monovithya, who is the court dissolved