Court issues arrest warrants for CNRP activists over ‘coup’

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Mean La, one of four accused, was detained in the early hours of Saturday morning at the Poipet international border checkpoint with neighbouring Thailand. Photo supplied

Arrest warrants were issued for four alleged Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) activists on Friday, resulting in the detention of at least one suspect on Saturday morning.

Tbong Khmum Provincial Court spokesman Theng Cheang said the court had issued arrest warrants for Soem Seang Leng, male; Yem Vannet, female; and Mean La, female, for “plotting” to stage a coup to institute CNRP “acting president” Sam Rainsy as head of the government.

“Soem Seang Leng, Yem Vannet, Mean La and their followers have gathered and mobilised citizens with a plot to lead a group to travel to Phnom Penh to participate in activities of toppling the government on November 9, 2019,” Cheang said in a press release.

Cheang said that authorities detained La in the early hours of Saturday morning at the Poipet international border checkpoint with neighbouring Thailand.

General Department of Prison spokesman Nuth Savana told The Post: “They have not sent her to prison because Tbong Khmum provincial authorities want to question her for one or two days first.

“Besides, we have not received a report or case file from the authorities as the suspect has not been sent to us yet.”

The Oddar Meanchey Provincial Court investigating judge also issued an arrest warrant on Friday for Monh Sarath, 54.

Sarath is suspected of “planning for the return of the convict Sam Rainsy to Cambodia,” a press release said.

“[We] would like to emphasise that the arrest warrant has been sent to the authorities for enforcement as per the law and correct procedures,” a press release issued by the provincial court’s spokesman said.

Sarath’s arrest warrant was issued after he gave an interview to Voice of America on September 26. In it, he claimed to have gathered support from Cambodians working in Thailand to pick up Sam Rainsy and return him to the Kingdom.

Cheang warned that those “attempting to stage a coup to topple the legitimate government” could be charged with “conspiracy” under Article 453 of the Criminal Code and sent to court.

The Criminal Code outlines a punishment of five to 10 years in prison for civilians found guilty of conspiracy and 10-20 years in prison for civil servants.

Last month Rainsy claimed to have arranged funds for members of the armed forces who defect to the CNRP ahead of his promised return to Cambodia on November 9 to coincide with Constitution Day.

A total of 13 former CNRP activists have been charged and sent to pre-trial detention in September under charges of “plotting and incitement to provoke serious chaos to national and social security”.