Military Officer Behind Fake Unit Stands Trial

A military official accused of creating a fake military unit—which he claimed was led by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son—to solicit money from potential recruits pleaded guilty on Thursday to a bevy of charges at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Presiding Judge Svay Tonh said Nguon Seng Sathya, 39, was charged with fraud, faking public documents, illegal weapons possession and improper use of military uniforms.

Mr. Seng Sathya, a major in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, was placed in provisional detention on December 6 for forging the signature of Lieutenant General Hun Manet, the premier’s eldest son.

During the court questioning, Mr. Seng Sathya admitted to collecting 31 applications and more than $10,000 in Siem Reap province and Phnom Penh for admission into his fake military unit.

He asked the judge for leniency during Thursday’s court hearing and claimed he gave some of the money back while donating other funds to families in Siem Reap province’s Prasat Bakorng district.

“I want to help them get access to the military officer training school,” he said. “I accept my mistake and I did it alone.”

According to previous testimony read by a court clerk, Mr. Seng Sathya, using a fake general’s uniform, tried to recruit men to join his fake military unit, calling it the ‘Special Intelligence Unit’ and claiming Lt. Gen. Manet was his direct superior.

More than 30 people tried to join the unit, and he said he received between $500 and $2,300 from each, depending on the position they wanted.

The verdict is expected on August 15.

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