By Lauren Crothers
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia
A trial set to open tomorrow against 10 members of a Cambodian dissident group is “unlawful” and should be thrown out, the self-exiled leader has said in an appeal.
The 10 men are members of the Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF), a dissident group that is considered a terrorist organization by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
They were arrested over a two-day period in October on accusations that they were plotting to incite violence by planting explosives along the border with Thailand, police said at the time.
However, KNLF leader Sam Serey reiterated in his statement, released Thursday, that they had been holding a peaceful demonstration in front of the Vietnamese Embassy.
The gathering had aimed at calling for respect for human rights on the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords that ended civil war in Cambodia.
“Unfortunately, they have been unfairly imprisoned for nearly nine months,” he said, adding that their detention was “unlawful” and a violation of the constitution, which is supposed to guarantee the right to “participate actively in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the nation.”
He stressed that there is “no evidence to prove that they have committed violence.”
“Therefore, the court should consider their cases and drop a charge against them and release them without condition.”
The KNLF’s manifesto spells out its opposition to Hun Sen’s government, which it says is beholden to Vietnam.
In April 2014, 12 men and a woman were convicted — six of them in absentia -- for plotting to overthrow the government. Prison terms for those who were present ranged between five and nine years.
Serey is one of the 12, and likely would be in prison were he not in exile in Denmark, from where he runs the KNLF.
A month later, another member of the group was arrested for being in possession of a few hundred copies of the KNLF manifesto. He was also tried and imprisoned for allegedly plotting to commit an attack on Cambodia.
Phay Siphan, spokesperson for the government’s Council of Ministers, could not be reached for comment by Anadolu Agency on Monday.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.