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Mother Nature co-founder San Mala (left) talks during a forum in Phnom Penh before he was arrested in Koh Kong on Monday.
Mother Nature co-founder San Mala (left) talks during a forum in Phnom Penh before he was arrested in Koh Kong on Monday. Vireak Mai

Activists at court

Three environmental activists imprisoned on Monday over their involvement in protests against a company accused of illegally dredging in a Koh Kong province estuary will be questioned today at the provincial court, according to a local rights group.

San Mala, Try Sovikea and Sim Somnang – all activists affiliated with the NGO Mother Nature – met with their attorneys yesterday to discuss their case.

All three men were charged on Monday with “threats to destroy followed by an order”, which carries a maximum prison sentence of two years.

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator with local rights group Licadho, which has provided legal representation to the group, said the “attorneys will go with them [today] to answer questions at the court”.

Yin Sovinchenda, spokesman of Koh Kong Provincial Hall, issued a statement yesterday explaining that the suspects had been arrested because of protests against Vietnamese company Direct Access, which he alleged involved boarding sand dredgers.

Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, co-founder of Mother Nature, said the group had heard from a “reliable source” that more activists would be arrested.

While Dith Tina, spokesman of the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), maintained yesterday that the company was operating legally, Gonzalez-Davidson said protests would continue.

“If the MME and relevant authorities do not do their job, we as activists cannot just close our eyes and see this happen.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

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