The Military Court handed down 16-year prison sentences to two former military officials on Thursday after they were found guilty of illegally establishing armed forces from 2016 to 2018 in Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Speu provinces and Phnom Penh.
The two former officials, Sok Bunsoeun, 64, and Roth Chanmony, 47, were members of Intervention Brigade 1.
Military Court spokesman Sar Sareth told The Post that trial chamber president, Judge Pork Pan, found the prosecution’s case stronger because it was based on witness statements and confessions made by the pair on April 28.
The court referenced Article 463 of the Penal Code, which states that “The act of constituting armed forces without authorisation or permission from a legitimate authority is punishable by imprisonment from 15 years to 30 years.”
Sareth said Bunsoeun and Chanmony can appeal the verdict at the Court of Appeal if they wished.
Their defence lawyer To Virak told The Post on Thursday that he didn’t accept the verdict and will discuss the possibility of an appeal with them.
The deputy prosecutor at the trial, Men Hong, said the verdict was appropriate because, in Article 463 of the Criminal Code, the range of jail sentences were from 15 to 30 years.
He said there was clear evidence which incriminated Chanmony and Bunsoeun.
However, because of their age and poor health, the court deemed it proper to only sentence them to 16 years. “The prosecution has no objection [to the sentence],” he said.
Hong said seven of the soldiers recruited by the pair had not made a claim because they knew their recruitment was illegal. As a result, they will also be subjected to court-sanctioned sentences.
“When they sued, they did not seek compensation because the accused selected the soldiers illegally,” Hong said.
Virak said Chanmony told Bunsoeun in 2016 that he would be recruiting people to join the army and demanding money from them to enter the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.
Bunsoeun participated in the operation by finding new soldiers and collecting the money, which he would then give to Chanmony.