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

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting