Trial begins in Cambodia coup case

Other News Materials 2 April 2008 04:58 (UTC +04:00)

Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of a southern California resident who allegedly led the attempted overthrow of Cambodia's government in November 2000. ( dpa )

Yasith Chhun, 51, president of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, was charged with 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.

Chhun could face life in prison without parole if found guilty. He denies the charges.

Prosecutors allege that Chhun met with former members of the Khmer Rouge military in October 1998 at the Cambodia-Thailand border to plan an overthrow of the Cambodian government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Prosecutors say that Chhun raised money in the United States and masterminded the attempted coup against Hun Sen, which included armed attacks on government buildings by an estimated 60 men. Three of the attackers were killed, and an unknown number of Cambodian citizens and security forces died in the incident. Hun Sen was unscathed.