The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld verdicts against six men convicted of attempting an armed overthrow of the government, as well as the defendants’ original jail sentences, which ranged from 15 to 17 years.
The six were convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in 2011 of plotting a bloody coup d’etat as members of a group called Sovanna Phum, or Golden Village. The Appeal Court upheld the verdict in 2013.
At the Supreme Court on Wednesday, before any of the defendants had shown up, Presiding Judge Kem Sathavy announced that the men would remain in prison.
“The Supreme Court has decided to uphold the Appeal Court decision as valid,” she said. “The defendants—Chea Sarann, Chum Vichey, Liv Soksovann, Phlort Ry, Yom Hev and Port Phor—are sentenced 15 to 17 years.”
During their appeal hearing at the Supreme Court last week, Mr. Sarann, the group’s alleged ringleader, claimed that he thought he was being recruited by a man named Than Thai to hunt down then-Taliban leader Osama bin Laden, who was supposedly hiding in Cambodia, for a chance at a $20 million reward.
At the courthouse on Wednesday, having arrived after the verdict was announced but still unaware of the decision, Mr. Sarann, a former soldier, maintained his innocence.
“I made an organizational chart to help us with our research. I have risked my life working for Hun Sen; why would I topple the government?” he said.
Mr. Phor also insisted that he was innocent.
“I’m only a farmer, and my family can feed itself farming, so I don’t commit crimes,” he said.
“I’m a farmer, so how could I topple the government? I never thought of it.”