Cambodia Sentences 3 U.S. Men in Attack

From Staff and Wire Reports

Five defendants, including a man from Oregon and two men from Long Beach who had been tried in absentia, were sentenced in Cambodia to life in prison Friday for a deadly terrorist attack intended to overthrow Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Twenty-five others were given prison sentences ranging from three to 20 years. Two defendants were acquitted.

The three Americans, all of Cambodian descent, are tax account Chhun Yasith, 43, and travel agent Thong Samien, 60, both of Long Beach; and Richard Kiri Kim, 51, of Oregon.

The others sentenced to life in prison are An Mao, 32, and Nou Saron, 52, Cambodian nationals who were arrested shortly after the Nov. 24 attack in Phnom Penh, the capital.

Kim, who admitted leading the Cambodian Freedom Fighters in the unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Cambodian government, has remained in custody in Cambodia since the attack.

The whereabouts of Yasith, convicted of masterminding the plot, and Samien, said to have handled the logistics for the attack, are not known.

"For me and for most of my people, these men are nobody," said Sereivuth Prak, deputy director of United Cambodian Community Inc. in Long Beach.

Prak said he had met Yasith and Samien and had "never considered them the leader of anything. We have 50,000 Cambodians in Long Beach. Not many people admired what they did."

Prak said Cambodia needs political stability.

The predawn attack did little damage, but at least six attackers and a bystander were killed and 12 people were wounded, according to Cambodian officials.

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