The Kampong Speu Provincial Court has denied bail for eight unionists accused of instigating violence at the Sabrina Garment factory last Monday.
Kao Ty, the defence lawyer for the five Free Trade Union officials and three other FTU members, said yesterday that judge Cheum Rithy had denied the bail request he submitted last Thursday, explaining that the case was still under investigation.
“The judge said they need time to complete some legislative procedures for calling the plaintiffs,” he said.
The court had told him he could appeal the decision, Ty added.
Kampong Speu Provincial Court judge Cheum Rithy said yesterday that he had not approved the bail request because significant work remained in questioning plaintiffs.
“It is difficult because there are more than 4,000 plaintiffs on this case,” he said, asserting that almost all the other workers at the factory opposed releasing the unionists.
Rithy said he had just begun questioning witnesses who were present for last Monday’s demonstration, during which participants in a 4,000-person strike for better benefits and wages entered the factory and clashed with workers who had not joined the strike, prompting police and military officials to intervene.
The clash caused significant property damage and injured a least 23 people, including nine police officers.
The following day, the majority of strikers returned to work, while about 500 continued demonstrating for the release of the unionists as well as for their initial demands of better benefits and wages.
Nhean Sokny, 23, one of the demonstrators, said yesterday that hundreds of workers would gather in front of the factory today and march to the court and demand the eight workers’ release.
“If they don’t agree, a big strike will happen again,” Sokny said.
Susan Chen, president of the Sabrina factory, has appealed in local media outlets for the Cambodian government “to firmly uphold the rights of law-abiding bona fide investors such as Sabrina factory”.