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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bandith trial ends with prosecutor accusing two

Bandith trial ends with prosecutor accusing two

The final day of former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith’s trial on Friday saw heated argument between lawyers and witnesses over who was responsible for shootings that injured three garment factory workers at a demonstration last year.

More than 20 witnesses testified during the three days of hearings, with a former deputy commune police chief telling the Svay Rieng court on Thursday that he saw his former boss shoot at workers.

Svay Rieng Provincial Court Judge Leang Sour said a verdict will be announced on June 25.

On Friday, lawyers for Sar Chantha, the Bavet town police chief who was also charged with the shootings, argued that pro-Bandith witnesses had given false testimony, Community Legal Education Center’s labour head Mouen Tola said.

Lawyers for the three victims – Buot Chenda, Keo Near and Nuth Sakhorn – argued the same, said Tola, who observed proceedings.

“The lawyers argued that [the witnesses’] testimony to the police, to the prosecutor, and to the investigating judge were all different,” he told the Post.

Tola added that the prosecutor said in his concluding remarks that it appeared both Bandith and Chantha had unintentionally injured the workers as charged.

 “He said Chhouk Bandith might have injured Buot Chenda and Keo Near, [while] Sar Chantha might have injured Nuth Sakhorn.”

In an unprecedented decision, the Appeal Court in March ordered the provincial court to try Bandith; and re-charged him after charges were dropped by the lower court with scant explanation last December.

Bandith did not attend the trial and his lawyer walked out of the court on the first day of proceedings citing a technical error in court documents.

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