Nine Men in Kratie Accused Of Illegally Recruiting Troops

Nine men accused of illegally recruiting soldiers for reintegration into RCAF were arrested last month in Kratie province, authorities confirmed this week.

It was the third such arrest in a month, sparking denials from a top Funcinpec military official that the party was illegally drumming up soldiers.

The men were arrested in Snuol district, Kratie First Deputy Police Chief Touch Naroth said.

Two men—identified as Moek Khoeun, a former Khmer Rouge defector, and Lim Savuth—were still in custody this week, Touch Naroth said. Both originally from Kompong Cham province, they were arrested Jan 15 and 18, respectively, and charged with illegally recruiting soldiers.

“They tried to make propaganda to persuade the villagers to join [RCAF],” Touch Naroth said.

The other seven men were arrested several days later when they issued “propaganda” and because they did not have soldiers’ identity cards, he said.

It was unclear if they are still being detained.

Court authorities could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Touch Naroth speculated that Moek Khoeun and Lim Savuth were trying to recruit soldiers with the hope of receiving a payout when the armed forces are reduced, as government authorities have pledged.

Last week, about 120 former Funcinpec soldiers were temporarily detained in Kompong Cham town after the group tried to rejoin RCAF forces.

In early January, eight resistance fighters were held in custody in Kompong Chhnang province for five days. Authorities accused the men of being or illegally recruiting soldiers.

Funcinpec leaders said they were legitimate armed forces who fled their posts after factional fighting in July 1997.

RCAF Commander-in-Chief Ke Kim Yan said Tuesday that anyone trying to illegally recruit soldiers must be sent to court.

“The arrest is not a political party-related issue,” the CPP general said. “We must be serious on this issue. We must apprehend those opportunists who try to recruit an army.”

But RCAF Deputy Comman-der Khann Savoeun, a former resistance leader, denied Fun­cinpec was doing anything illegal.

“How can we have plans to recruit an army?” he said. “Now, we have no rice to feed them.”

Serey Kosal, a former resistance leader now advising Na­tional Assembly Presi­dent Prince Norodom Ranariddh, was concerned about the latest case, but said he doubted it would unravel the Funcinpec-CPP coalition.

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