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Drug case hearing for union head

A UNION leader who has been held in pre-trial detention since his contraversial arrest in November pleaded innocent to drug smuggling charges yesterday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Suos Chantha, a 29-year-old union leader at the United Garment Factory in Sen Sok district, was arrested November 19 and charged with drug smuggling after officials allegedly confiscated nine small packets of methamphetamines from his motorbike.

The arrest sparked protests from workers and union heads, who claimed the charges had been fabricated.

Investigating Judge Phou Povson said yesterday that investigations were ongoing.

“We ordered him to continue serving pre-trial detention,” he said.

Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said he would continue to support Suos Chantha.

“We still believe that he was not involved with drug smuggling or dealing,” he said. “He told me he didn’t even smoke cigarettes.”

He said Suos Chantha had also claimed to have been “brutally beaten” by military officials after his arrest.

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