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Garment factory protesters off to Appeal Court

Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association president Vorn Pao is dragged away by a soldier after he was beaten at Yakjin factory in 2014 during a peaceful protest.
Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association president Vorn Pao is dragged away by a soldier after he was beaten at Yakjin factory in 2014 during a peaceful protest. Heng Chivoan

Garment factory protesters off to Appeal Court

Ten workers and union leaders given four-and-a-half-year suspended sentences for their alleged involvement in a January 2014 strike are to have their cases revisited by the Court of Appeal today.

The 10 were arrested on January 2, 2014, after security forces violently cracked down on their protest in front of the South Korean-owned Yakjin garment factory in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district.

Lawyer for six of the accused Sam Sokunthea said his clients planned to challenge the validity of their conviction.

“They said they did not commit the acts they were charged with and sentenced for by the municipal court judge. We could see that they were the victims who were beaten by paratroops from the 911 Brigade; they were injured,” Sokunthea said.

The 10 whose cases are to be heard today are among 23 who were convicted on May 31, 2014. Of that group nine were sent to Thailand for medical treatment after they were released from custody with suspended sentences.

Only four of the 10 appellants will appear in court today.

Co-defendant Theng Savoeun explained that some of the six had not received their summonses as they had either left Cambodia to find work or were dealing with medical issues, adding that their absence had caused the hearing to be delayed twice already.

“As I understand, the four that will appear are [Boeung Kak land rights activist] Chan Puthisak, [Yakjin employee] Chhim Thoeun, [labour rights NGO employee] Sokun Sambath Piseth and myself,” said Savoeun, a coordinator for the Coalition of the Cambodian Farmer Community.

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