Radio Station Owner Denies Secession Charges

Independent radio station owner Mam Sonando declared his innocence yesterday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court where his trial began over his alleged involvement in a secessionist movement in Kratie province. … Commenting on organization he founded, the Association of Democrats, Mr. Sonando told the court it was dedicated to teaching “people to understand freedom.” Joining Mr. Sonando in the dock yesterday were eight other men also charged for their alleged roles in the secession. … [The men] gave largely similar testimony, though a few said they have never met Mr. Sonando. They also said they had turned themselves in after Prime Minister Hun Sen offered to have the charges dropped against anyone who confessed to the government’s secessionist allegations.