Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Anger grows as ‘23’ trial begins

Anger grows as ‘23’ trial begins

District security personnel outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday carry an activist away from a demonstration in support of the 23 people detained during January’s garment strikes
District security personnel outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday carry an activist away from a demonstration in support of the 23 people detained during January’s garment strikes. Vireak Mai

Anger grows as ‘23’ trial begins

Family members of some of the 23 men sent to trial on Friday over their alleged role in January garment protests that turned violent said yesterday that the court was not giving their loved ones the chance to defend themselves and was harming their well-being further by delaying their trial.

The trial for the group of workers, unionists and activists was adjourned until May 6 after Phnom Penh municipal judge Keo Mony said the court needed more time to study
the evidence.

“These people [are accused of] having incited people to protest against garment factories and causing serious turmoil in our society,” he said.

Prak Sovannary, wife of Vorn Pov, the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association president who is one of those on trial, said her husband was not questioned.

“My husband and others are being detained at Prey Sar prison while they wait for bail hearings at the Supreme Court [on May 2],” she said. “But the [trial] has been delayed so long. Why doesn’t the judge resume [today]?”

“My husband has been detained for nearly four months already and was brought to court only to watch. He had no chance to be questioned.”

Youm Sokun, 55, father of accused NGO worker Sokun Sambath Piseth, said only four of the accused had been questioned, along with witnesses, including from the military.

“My son was beaten, injuring his hand. He was beaten by the military, but during the hearing, a military officer said they did not use any metal sticks to [hit] protesters.”

All suspects were arrested on January 2 and 3 in Phnom Penh during a strike that ended in government forces shooting dead at least four people.

Charges include aggravated intentional violence and aggravated intentional property destruction, which carry a maximum prison sentence of five years. The court has reduced charges against at least three, including Pov, whose charges carry a maximum of two years’ prison.

Two men were separately on trial for their alleged participation in a November riot involving striking factory workers from SL Garment.

REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA, BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA AND SEAN TEEHAN

MOST VIEWED

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said