PHNOM PENH - Court prosecutors on Thursday sought to tie Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando with a US group they say is committed to toppling the current Cambodian government, as a third day of hearings ensued.
Mam Sonando, 71, is accused of leading a secessionist movement in Kratie province that, prosecutors say, was the cause of a violent clash between villagers and security forces there in May. Mam Sonando has denied the charges, and rights groups say there is little evidence pointing to such a movement.
In court Thursday, prosecution witness Lour Rabo, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior’s central security department, said Mam Sonando had met with a man named Sourn Serey Ratha, the leader of a US-based group called the Cambodian Action Committee for Justice and Equity, in Thailand and the US.
Lour Rabo said the group’s aim is to topple the Cambodian government, and that both men were working together to appeal to Cambodian-Americans to help overthrow the regime of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Mam Sonando acknowledged Thursday he had joined a forum in the US in May for the action committee, but he said he had done so in the name of journalism, to cover the group’s activities. He also admitted to meeting with Sourn Serey Ratha in Thailand, but he said that was to accept a donation from him.
He asked why Cambodia has not sought the extradition of Sourn Serey Ratha if it has proof of his plans.