The director of the Kampong Cham prison where 21 men have been held since a January crackdown on garment strikes has said the detainees may not make it to their April 18 trial date in Phnom Penh, because his van is not equipped.
“There are more than 20. How can I have a car to bring them to trial?” Kea Sovanna, head of Correctional Centre 3, said. “My car is only for going to the nearby market to buy food to cook for them. This car can’t be used for long-distance trips of about 200 kilometres.”
Last month, the CC3 van’s poor condition was also cited as the reason for not transporting the men to a bail hearing.
Authorities arrested 23 people on January 2 and 3 as part of the strike crackdown.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court denied separate bail requests on Friday for Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, and Sokun Sombath Piseth, a Center for Labor Rights of Cambodia employee.
Judge Keo Mony said on Friday he had no information from prison officials attesting to the poor health of the two, which their lawyers cited as the main reason for bail requests.
The municipal court did not return a call yesterday seeking comment about transport for the April 18 court date.
Mathieu Pellerin, a consultant for Licadho, said “the fact that one car is broken makes for a very, very weak excuse to deny the 21 detainees the fundamental right to attend their own trial”.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN