Human Rights

Prosecution Says Beehive Owner Colluded With US Group

Mam Sonando has denied the charges, and rights groups say there is little evidence pointing to such a movement.

A Cambodian supporter holds a banner reading: A Cambodian supporter holds a banner reading: "The court system must be respected by the public not for..." as she sits with other supporters of Mam Sonando, one of Cambodia’s most prominent human rights defenders, in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Some 300 supporters gathered for prayer for local radio station owner Sonando, who has been held in pre-trial detention for almost two months for insurrection charge, during his court appearance. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
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A Cambodian supporter holds a banner reading:
A Cambodian supporter holds a banner reading: "The court system must be respected by the public not for..." as she sits with other supporters of Mam Sonando, one of Cambodia’s most prominent human rights defenders, in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Some 300 supporters gathered for prayer for local radio station owner Sonando, who has been held in pre-trial detention for almost two months for insurrection charge, during his court appearance. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Heng ReaksmeyVOA Khmer
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.

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