Kompong Thom Provincial Court on Saturday charged a former Funcipec deputy district governor and a CPP village chief with forming an illegal armed force, court officials said yesterday.
Thun Saran, 42, former deputy governor of Prasat Sambor district, and 29-year-old Thon Thy, chief of O’Krouke village in Sambor commune, were arrested by district and provincial police on Friday, said provincial court Judge Khieu San.
“The court charged them with forming the illegal armed force in accordance with article 463 of the penal code,” he said. “If they are found guilty, they could face imprisonment of 15 to 30 years.”
Though the two did not have guns in their possession, they had compiled a list of seven people to recruit into an armed force, he said. He said he did not know the purpose behind the alleged group.
“They did not have documents to allow them to assemble an armed group from the governor. If they have enough documents to assemble the armed group, they would not have been arrested,” he said.
Phouk Ly, deputy district police chief, declined to answer questions on the case, saying he knew little about the case and that his officers arrested the men on orders from the provincial court.
Chheng Samphors, senior monitor for the human rights group Licadho, said he plans to investigate the charges.
He said provincial staff had already interviewed Mr Saran, who said he and Mr Thy were merely responding to a complaint from an Air Force lieutenant colonel. That officer said that the RCAF needed more recruits, so Mr Saran told his relatives about it and did not compile a list.
“Mr Saran said that the case possibly occurred due to a dispute between him and the governor of Prasat Sambor,” he said.
Judge San said the court would investigate claims about the Air Force official.
Ma Hun, the district governor, declined to comment.
Keo Puthreasmey, president of the Funcipec Party, said he had not received information on the case, but will investigate to see whether any members are involved.