The 33-year-old member of the Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF) who was arrested in Poipet City on Monday has been charged with forgery and plotting to commit an attack, a police official said Thursday.
“The deputy prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Heang Sopheak, has charged a 33-year-old man, Hen Chan, with forging documents and plotting, after police sent him to court on Wednesday,” said Lieutenant General Kirth Chantharith, the spokesman for the National Police.
“Mr. Chan was [sent] to Prey Sar prison’s CC1 for pretrial detention,” he added.
In addition to being charged with the forgery of a public document and subsequent use of it, which carries maximum sentences of 10 and 3 years respectively, Mr. Chan was charged under Article 453 of the Criminal Code with plotting to commit an attack, which carries a maximum of 10 years, said Lt. Gen. Chantharith.
Kim Chengbun, a clerk at the court, confirmed the charges.
When he was arrested, Mr. Chan was allegedly trying to cross the border into Cambodia with a fake passport and with copies of a book written by KNLF president Sam Serey. Mr. Serey lives in exile in Denmark but was last month convicted, along with 12 other people of trying to overthrow the government.
His group is considered a terrorist organization by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said Thursday that he had spoken to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees office in Bangkok, and that “they confirm that he is an official asylum seeker in Thailand.”
Mr. Roberston said he understands, however, that the case has not been finalized, and that Mr. Chan’s status as a refugee has not been decided.
Mr. Chan’s mother, Kich Trean, 57, said that police searched her house in Kompong Speu province in vain following her son’s arrest earlier this week.
“I am not sure how it was related to my son’s arrest on Monday,” she said. “I know there was no evidence on him when he was arrested, or in my house.”
Ms. Trean said she made the journey to Phnom Penh on Thursday to try and visit her son, who had been living in Thailand. Prison guards, citing the public holiday, turned her away, Ms. Trean said, but told her she could return today.
“I have no defense lawyer for my son’s case yet, and I don’t know about his condition since he was arrested,” she said.
KNLF president Mr. Serey said by telephone that the charges were “an injustice, because we act peacefully and not illegally.”
(Additional reporting by Lauren Crothers)
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