Authorities Friday formally charged two men with being members of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters and plotting to overthrow the government.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court officials charged David Chan, 34, and Ung Chandara, 43, with membership in an armed group. Plainclothes Thai police officers arrested both men Wednesday near the border town of Poipet and handed them over to Cambodian authorities.
Speaking before his court appearance Friday, Chan admitted to reporters that he was a member of the CFF, which is led by Cambodian-American Chhun Yasith from his home in Long Beach, in the US state of California.
“Mr Chhun Yasith appointed me to be director of headquarters at the Cambodian-Thai border. I started working in February of 2001,” Chan said.
Reached Thursday in the US, Chhun Yasith denied knowing either David Chan or Ung Chandara.
When asked why he joined the outlawed organization, which took credit for a November 2000 raid in Phnom Penh that killed at least eight, Chan said: “I plant rice because I expect to get crops.”
There are “many others” involved in the rebel organization, Chan said, which is why he expected to be successful in leading the group.
After his appearance in court, Ung Chandara admitted to being a member of CFF, but said he had done dothing wrong.
“There’s nothing to accuse me of,” he said as military police led him away. He was not involved in planning any violence for the group, Ung Chandara said earlier.
Under Cambodian law, prosecutors now have six months to bring the men to trial.