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Chief Calls Chhun Yasith Conviction a ‘Warning’

National Police Chief Hok Lundy welcomed the guilty verdict of Chhun Yasith in US federal court this week, calling it a warning to other groups who might think of attacking the government.

Chhun Yasith was found guilty of leading an armed attack on the government by the Cambodian Freedom Fighters in November 2000, in fighting that left at least seven people dead.

“The conviction against Chhun Yasith is a warning to other individuals, even any Khmer or foreigner, who engage armed forces in attempting to topple the government or engage in terrorism,” Hok Lundy said in a phone interview. Any such person “is to face law enforcement and a legal sentence.”

Chhun Yasith, a US citizen from Cambodia living in Long Beach, Calif., was convicted of conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, conspiracy to damage or destroy property in a foreign country, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States, and engaging in a military expedition against a nation with which the United States is at peace.

He faces up to life in prison and is set to be sentenced Sept. 8.

One witness of 13 who testified in front of a US jury this month said Chhun Yasith had denied the charges.

Chhun Yasith claimed “what he did was try to change the country from what he described as a dictatorial regime, and he also accused key witnesses of cheating and exaggerating in court,” the witness said.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation called two former lieutenants of the CFF, Thong Samean and Gilbert Sao, to testify to activities of Chhun Yasith as their leader.

The nighttime raid on government buildings left 13 people wounded and led to a round-up of CFF suspects, some of whom are now serving sentences in Cambodian prison.