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Activists at court

Mother Nature co-founder San Mala (left) talks during a forum in Phnom Penh before he was arrested in Koh Kong on Monday.
Mother Nature co-founder San Mala (left) talks during a forum in Phnom Penh before he was arrested in Koh Kong on Monday. Vireak Mai

Activists at court

Three environmental activists imprisoned on Monday over their involvement in protests against a company accused of illegally dredging in a Koh Kong province estuary will be questioned today at the provincial court, according to a local rights group.

San Mala, Try Sovikea and Sim Somnang – all activists affiliated with the NGO Mother Nature – met with their attorneys yesterday to discuss their case.

All three men were charged on Monday with “threats to destroy followed by an order”, which carries a maximum prison sentence of two years.

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator with local rights group Licadho, which has provided legal representation to the group, said the “attorneys will go with them [today] to answer questions at the court”.

Yin Sovinchenda, spokesman of Koh Kong Provincial Hall, issued a statement yesterday explaining that the suspects had been arrested because of protests against Vietnamese company Direct Access, which he alleged involved boarding sand dredgers.

Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, co-founder of Mother Nature, said the group had heard from a “reliable source” that more activists would be arrested.

While Dith Tina, spokesman of the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), maintained yesterday that the company was operating legally, Gonzalez-Davidson said protests would continue.

“If the MME and relevant authorities do not do their job, we as activists cannot just close our eyes and see this happen.”

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