Trio Accused of Abetting ‘Terrorist’ Deny Charges

Three men accused of joining overseas Cambodian dissident Sourn Serey Ratha in plans to topple the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen denied Tuesday the charges against them during their trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Mr. Serey Ratha, president of the Khmer People Power Movement (KPPM), is a permanent resident of the U.S. and is being tried in absentia.

From center to left: Serey Bunlong, Im Phearun and Seng Sok Meng arrive at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday for their trial on charges of supporting US-based dissident Sourn Serey Ratha in a plot to overthrow the government. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
From center to left: Serey Bunlong, Im Phearun and Seng Sok Meng arrive at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday for their trial on charges of supporting US-based dissident Sourn Serey Ratha in a plot to overthrow the government. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

He stands charged with plotting to overthrow the government—for an attempt to deliver T-shirts urging people not to vote and another to hand out flowers with anti-government stickers to police, both in 2013—and has been labeled by Mr. Hun Sen as a terrorist.

The three others, Serey Bunlong, Seng Sok Meng and Im Phearun, were arrested for attempting to deliver the T-shirts and other KPPM paraphernalia, and are charged with being members of an anti-government group and obstructing elections.

In court Tuesday, Major General Tieng Sarath, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s central security department, said authorities found the suspects in possession of T-shirts, watches and radios—all bearing the KPPM logo.

He cited a letter in which he said Mr. Serey Ratha “incites the Cambodian people against the government and says he wants to overthrow the government,” but did say when the letter was dated or how it was obtained.

Maj. Gen. Sarath also referred to a 2011 interview the KPPM president gave on Thai television with the same message.

While all three suspects Tuesday denied being KPPM members or supporters, Mr. Bunlong and Mr. Sok Meng admitted to transporting the packed KPPM paraphernalia, although they claimed not to know what was inside the packages.

“I am not an activist for Sourn Serey Ratha. I am not a member of the Khmer People Power Movement,” Mr. Sok Meng told the court.

The trial resumes on Tuesday.

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