A Cambodian-American tax preparer and accountant from Long Beach, Calif., went on trial in a Los Angeles federal court for plotting to take over Cambodia with a group of freedom fighters.
Opening arguments got underway in the trial of Yasith Chhun, 52, who faces charges of conspiracy to kill overseas, conspiracy to damage or destroy property in a foreign country, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside America and violation of the Neutrality Act.
"This accountant from the city of Long Beach decided he was going to take over a country, and he was willing to take lives in order to do so," said prosecutor Lamar Baker, according to the New York Sun.
Chhun's group hoped to overthrow Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who had been a brigade commander under Pol Pot, the late dictator responsible for Cambodia's brutal "killing fields." His public defender said Chhun believed U.S. officials would support his efforts after the House passed a resolution in 1998 calling for Hun Sen to be indicted for human rights abuses.
Chhun, who worked from an office in a California strip mall, hoped to become interim president of Cambodia if the coup plot succeeded. His group, the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, got as far as throwing grenades into coffee shops and karaoke bars. Chhun is not a CPA.
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