The trial of a group of Khmer and Khmer Krom men accused of plotting to provide a foreign nation with the means to carry out hostile acts against Cambodia opened and closed Friday.
One of the lawyers for the group, Chan Reaseypheak, said the case was built on a weak body of evidence and that two suspects claimed police tortured them to extract confessions.
These claims were denied by Rin Savoeun, deputy bureau chief of internal security at the Ministry of Interior.
“We have enough evidence to implicate them,” he said Friday in response to a barrage of questions from seven defense lawyers.
“It is an internal police matter, so police cannot elaborate.”
There were no witnesses to testify directly as to the guilt of the men, who face maximum sentences of 10 years in prison if found guilty.
Khmer Krom men Suon Phal, 53, and Yin Yav, 56, were arrested on March 8, 2013, in Thailand’s Pathum Thani province. Yorn Kimsrun, 28, Yorn Yoeub, 26, Theach Kongphuong, 38, and Khem Ma, 29, who are Khmer, were arrested a week later in the same area. Six suspects are at large.
They are accused of being members of a terrorist group called the Khmer National Salvation Front. They deny any knowledge of alleged hostile activities.
“I just knew Sam Serei, but I don’t know about the infrastructure of the
Khmer National Salvation Front,” said Mr. Kongphuong, referring to the movement’s alleged leader.
“I just knew that Sam Serei held a workshop to discuss this Front,” he said, adding that he never heard Mr. Serei discuss recruiting armed forces.
“I never had the intention of toppling the Cambodian government, because we did not have any forces or weapons,” he told the court.
Mr. Serei’s brother, Mr. Yoeub, said his sibling went by a different name and that he had never spoken of committing the crimes police allege.
“My brother never told me about this movement, and I did not join it, because I was busy studying at a university in Thailand,” he said. “I just met him two times in Thailand.”
Court prosecutor Keu Bunnara insisted that the suspects had a desire to overthrow the government and that they should be punished in accordance with the law.
Presiding Judge Seng Neang said a verdict would be handed down April 11.
sovuthy@cambodiadaily.com
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