The Battambang Provincial Court on Monday decided to charge two Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) coup plotters.
In the meantime, the Siem Reap Provincial Court prosecutor also issued a warrant ordering police to arrest another CNRP coup plotter.
A press release on Monday said Battambang Provincial Court’s prosecutor had ruled to charge Suon Chamroeun, 39, and Phong Socheat, 46, and other unnamed accomplices with “plotting” under Article 453 of the Criminal Code.
“The charges involve mobilising and galvanising the public to participate in the plot to topple the government of Cambodia as per the convict Sam Rainsy’s plot to return. The pair were charged following appeals [to orchestrate a coup] by the convict Sam Rainsy and his accomplices,” the press release said.
It said Chamroeun, Socheat and their accomplices planned to lead a group of coup plotters to Phnom Penh to “participate in activities to topple the government on November 9”.
“Those involved in supporting or participating in implementing the plan to stage a coup to topple the government would face charges and be sent to court to be punished with a prison sentence of five to 10 years for plotting under Article 453 of the Criminal Code,” the press release said.
The arrests come amid a crackdown on CNRP coup plotters in the Kingdom. The Post reported last week that more than 20 people have been either arrested or charged with “plotting” since Rainsy announced his return to the Kingdom next month to coincide with Constitution Day.
The Siem Reap Provincial Court said in a press release on Monday that it had issued an arrest warrant for Chen Sokngeng, 28, also for “plotting”.
“Rainsy has called on his accomplices to use a budget and illegally form [militias] and arm rebels to participate in the coup plan,” the press release said of Rainsy’s proposed budget for Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) members who defect in support of the coup plotters.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Defence on Tuesday issued a statement defending an order of its minister Tea Banh which instructed commanders, deputy commanders and soldiers of the Brigade 70 military unit to cooperate with the relevant authorities and institutions to act against Rainsy and his accomplices.
The statement said the RCAF is charged by the Constitution to “defend the nation and king”, in reference to Tea Banh’s speech on Tuesday during a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the elite Brigade 70 unit.
“The RCAF must implement the order absolutely because this issue is related to the development, security, peace, economic and political stability of the Kingdom.
“However, if there is a conflict between a party with another party, the RCAF will keep its independence. But the activities of Rainsy and his accomplices cannot be tolerated,” the statement stated.
Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath told The Post that the crackdown indicates that the government is growing increasingly concerned about Rainsy’s plan to instigate a coup.
“It is an overreaction. If the arrests, violation of human rights, and especially the freedom of expression continue, citizens will be afraid. These arrests do not benefit Cambodia at all,” claimed Chanrath.
But National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun held a different view. He said police officials were obliged to stop and arrest those involved in a coup plot against the elected government.
“Therefore, after Rainsy’s declaration of plans to topple the government, police officials arrested 40 coup plotters and another three came forward on their own to confess their involvement,” Khoeun said.