Cambodian rebel jailed for life in LA court

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The Independent US

An accountant has been sentenced to life in prison in Los Angeles for orchestrating a failed attempt to overthrow the Cambodian government in 2000.

Yasith Chhun, 53, was found guilty in 2008 of three counts of conspiracy and one count of engaging in a military expedition against a nation with which the United States is at peace.

Chhun, a naturalised US citizen who fled Cambodia in 1982, grew frustrated with the lack of free elections under what he viewed as the oppressive regime of the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, a former member of the Khmer Rouge under the dictator Pol Pot, said Chhun's attorney, Richard Callahan. "He saw Hun Sen as on an even par with Pol Pot," Mr Callahan said.

Chhun also wanted to avenge the death of his father, who he was forced to watch being beheaded by Khmer Rouge soldiers.

Chhun was found guilty after a two-week trial, during which prosecutors said he had planned "Operation Volcano" to overthrow Hun Sen's government. Mr Callahan said Chhun would appeal.

The Cambodian government welcomed the verdict. The Foreign Minister, Hor Namhong, said: "Terrorism is the main threat to human beings, not only in the United States but also in Cambodia."

Chhun assembled a force of 200 in Thailand which was subdued after attacking government buildings in the capital, Phnom Penh.