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Former town governor trial urged

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Garment worker Buot Chenda is moved by hospital staff after she was shot during a protest in Svay Rieng province in February. Photograph: Derek Stout/Phnom Penh Post

The Democratic Federation Union of Garment Workers (DFUGW) pressures the Svay Rieng Provincial Court to arrest and try the former town governor charged with shooting three women at a garment protest.

Letters calling for the court to speed up proceedings against former Bavet town Governor Chhouk Bandith, who was charged with unintentionally injuring the women on April 18, were submitted to the court and the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday by the DFUGW.

The DFUGW also challenged the charge of unintentional shooting handed to Bandith, who they allege very intentionally fired his pistol at the women in an act of attempted murder – which took place in front of about 6,000 protesting garment workers in Bavet town.

“DFUGW is very concerned about the measures of the provincial court, which can bring about injustice for the injured workers,” it states.

The victims all survived the shooting after being hospitalised, although for some time there were doubts about 21-year-old victim Buot Chenda, who was shot in the chest and in serious condition.

Ath Thorn, president of the DFUGW, said the court had pushed back its hearing date for Bandith again and again.

“We are worried the hearing won’t come into existence, and what’s more, there is fairness for the victims, because the court intended not to take measure against this case or not,” he said.

Investigating Judge Pich Chhert, director of Svay Rieng Provincial Court, said he had not received the letter but would urge the prosecutor to speed up proceedings.

“From my point of view, I think that we will be hearing the case during this month,” he said.

Last month, Chhert said their investigation had concluded and that the case would likely go to trial within in one week.

Som Procheameanith, director of cabinet at the Ministry of Justice, declined to comment, saying he was in a meeting.

Proceedings in the case were delayed after the three victims lodged a complaint to the court asking for $45,000 in compensation each from the suspect in April. Bavet town officials had offered the victims $1,000 each or a motorbike to drop the charges after the shooting.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at titthara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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