The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Saturday charged 10 members of the Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF), a political advocacy group vehemently opposed to the ruling CPP, with plotting to incite violence following their arrests last week.
The group of mostly farmers and laborers stands accused of planning to topple the government through distributing incendiary literature, and their case will be sent to the investigating judge for further questioning, said deputy prosecutor Meas Chanpiseth.
National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said Sunday that police have evidence of the group’s violent intentions, despite the KNLF’s claims that the charges against their members are politically motivated.
“Their action was to…topple the government. Previously they were linked to explosive weapons found in front of the Council of Ministers,” Lieutenant General Chantharith said, referring to a case from 2009 that was previously blamed on another supposed terrorist organization, the Tiger Head movement.
“We have evidence…and other material to indicate they were participating with this illegal organization [the KNLF],” Lt. Gen. Chantharith said of the arrested men.
The suspects—Liv Yi, 29; Chhun Nakong, 28; Chhun Chhat, 29; Chrach Much, 24; Lath Liheng, 22; Chan Sna, 27; Chhim Smak, 57; An Chann, 35; Chan Ra, 23; and Chhay Vich, 40—were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday morning ahead of a planned protest outside the Vietnamese Embassy on Thursday to mark the anniversary of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements.
The KNLF, made up largely of ethnic Khmer Krom dissidents, many of whom reside in Thailand, is headed by Sam Serey, who lives in Denmark. On its website, the KNLF says it aims to “free the Cambodian people from the Vietnamese neo-colony and dictatorship regime under Hun Sen.”
The arrests are the latest in the government’s crusade to shut down the KNLF, which Prime Minister Hun Sen has labeled a terrorist organization.
In May, 13 KNLF members were found guilty of plotting to overthrow the government and sentenced to between five and nine years in prison. Seven of the defendants were sent to prison while six others, including Mr. Serey, were tried in absentia and remain at large.
Hin Sreymom, the wife of Mr. Yi, a construction worker who was among those arrested last week, said her husband was only in Phnom Penh to receive medical treatment.
“I have never seen my husband involved in any group. I have never heard of this group,” she said. “The police arrested the wrong person because my husband is innocent and has never been involved in any crimes.”
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