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Two suspected KNLF members arrested

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
The initial eight suspects arrested by police over the alleged coup plot. DAP News

A National Police spokesman yesterday said two more men suspected of being masterminds behind the trafficking of illegal firearms for a coup plot have been arrested.

Spokesman Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun said the men were apprehended in Pailin province on the evening of October 4, noting that both men are believed to be members of the Khmer National Liberation Front.

“We believe there are more suspects in the country,” he said. “Police are hunting them now so I cannot reveal their identities at this time.”

Police have so far arrested a total of 11 suspects believed to be connected to the KNLF and the Tiger Head Movement, both deemed terrorist organisations by the government. Police have also confiscated 29 AK-47 assault rifles, one handgun, and a number of explosives and ammunition.

Officers arrest a suspect and seize guns. Sieng Vanvoeun

Lt Gen Kim Khoeun said no explosives were found during the latest arrests. The suspects are now in jail pending trial.

Ly Sophanna, a Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman, yesterday said all 11 suspects were charged with participating in and organising an armed group, along with trafficking of weapons, explosives and ammunition.

Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak said the group received money from exiled KNLF president Sam Serey for the attempted coup.

“The [KNLF] movement has planned for decades to topple the government by establishing illegal armed forces, spying on military secrets, training terrorists, and conducting training along the Cambodian-Thai border,” Gen Sopheak said.

Mr Serey was sentenced to nine years in prison in absentia two years ago after a court found him guilty of plotting an attack in a separate case. He fled Cambodia in 2010 and has since remained in exile in Denmark.

Mr Serey has repeatedly denied the most recent accusations made by police.

“I don’t have money,” he said earlier this month. “How can I have money to buy weapons? Everyone knows me as a politician. It is not true at all. I am very poor.”Yesterday, he again denied all 11 men are KNLF members, noting that his group hopes to garner public support through political means, not armed conflict.

“I do not understand why the current government is scared of me and trying to slander me again and again,” he said. “I plea to the government to pardon me and allow me to be involved in politics so I can help develop the country. I am innocent.”

Since 2014, about 20 KNLF members have been convicted of incitement and plotting to topple the government. Each member received between one to ten years in jail.

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