LOS ANGELES, June 22 (UPI) -- A U.S. citizen who plotted the overthrow of the Cambodian government was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles.
The U.S. attorney's office said Yasith Chhun, 53, of Long Beach, Calif., president of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, was given life without parole for his 2008 conviction for conspiring to kill in a foreign country.
During his trial in U.S. District Court, prosecutors showed Chhun traveled to the Cambodia-Thailand border in October 1998 to meet with Cambodian military personnel opposed to the ruling party in Cambodia, the Cambodia People's Party, headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen. The Cambodian Freedom Fighters organization was created at that time with Chhun as the group's leader.
The Cambodian opposition forces agreed to acquire weapons and Chhun was to raise money for the violent overthrow of the Cambodian government, prosecutors said.
After a series of small-scale attacks, the group plotted "Operation Volcano," which was to be a major assault on Cambodian government institutions and the prime minister, the U.S. attorney's office said in release. On Nov. 24, 2000, Chhun orchestrated the small-arms attack on the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, which wasn't successful in overthrowing the government but resulted in a number of people being killed.