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Ten Jailed Over KNLF Militia Roles

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:

Ten accused members of the Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF) were jailed yesterday for between five and six years after being convicted of plotting against the government.
An 11th, exiled KNLF president Sam Serey, 38, was sentenced in absentia to nine years.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a warrant for his arrest. However, Mr. Serey lives in Denmark, which does not have an extradition treaty with Cambodia.
Those jailed for five years were Chhun Nakong, 30, Liv Yi, 31, Chhun Chhath, 31, and Chranh Moch, 26.
Lak Liheang, 24, Chan Sna, 29, Chhim Smak, 59, An Than, 37, Pheach Chanra, 31, and Chhay Veth, 42, were given six-year terms.
KNLF members are said by the government to be members of an illegal military force.
Those convicted yesterday were said to have been involved in urging Cambodians and Khmer Krom people to join a planned demonstration against Vietnam in October 2014.
The protest, called for outside the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh, was to demand Vietnamese respect for the 1991 Paris Peace Accords.
The protest was also to demand Vietnam recognize Cambodia’s historical claim that Kampuchea Krom in Vietnam is former Cambodian land.
The court’s presiding judge, San Sophath, said the 10 accused were arrested by the Ministry of Interior’s internal security police in Chamkarmon and Daun Penh districts on October 22 and 23, 2014.
After their arrests, Mr. Sophath said police had confiscated hundreds of KNLF statements, leaflets, books, hats and other printed materials.
Mr. Sophath said Mr. Serey had appointed the 10 as ministers, secretaries of state and commanders or deputy commanders of armed forces and police.
They were to serve in shadow ministries of the national defense and the interior in the exiled KNLF government.  
The 10 who appeared in court yesterday said the verdict was unjust. They said they were victims who had been cheated and had fallen for Mr. Serey’s trick and politics. They said they will appeal.  
Mr. Veth, a former teacher at Ponleu Selapak school in Battambang province, said he was not a member of the KNLF, but had been sentenced to six years.
“It was a big injustice,” he said outside the court.
He said that on the day he was arrested, he went to see the demonstration outside the Vietnamese embassy.
He did not join the protest but was arrested along with other suspects.
Mr. Serey told Khmer Times yesterday: “I am not surprised by this conviction. I am aware that Cambodia is not a just society. The court is only a political tool of the ruling party.
“They use the court to persecute pro-democracy activists or those who have struggled for peace, freedom and democracy like me.”
He said that Cambodian people have suffered under the Vietnamese invasion and a dictatorship for three decades.
The regime had violated human rights in ways such as extra-judicial killings, forced evictions, land grabs and unfair imprisonment, he said.
“Recently, Kem Ley was shot dead. No perpetrators have been brought to justice so far,” he said.
He accused the ruling CPP and opposition CNRP parties of joining together to change the scale of the demarcation map used by Cambodian and Vietnamese border negotiators.
This caused the loss of Cambodian territory and of Koh Trol to Vietnam.
Those convicted were not traitors, Mr. Serey said.
“On the contrary, the government has always arrested innocents and those who oppose their regime to imprison and charge us as traitors instead,” he said.
“Hun Sen’s regime is the second Pol Pot regime. They use the same car. They changed only the drivers and tactics to kill and persecute Khmer people.
“It is unjust for us. We have worked peacefully to promote human rights and democracy as said in the universal declaration of human rights.
“I hope the world’s people will provide justice for the Cambodian people,” he said.  
Court documents show that in a separate case in April 2014, Mr. Serey was convicted in absentia by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and sentenced to seven years.
Another 12 KNLF members were sentenced to between five and nine years on charges of being an accomplice to treachery.

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