The defence attorney representing eight union members arrested at the Sabrina Garment factory on Monday requested bail for his clients yesterday.
Judge Cheum Rithy said he had received defence attorney Kao Ty’s bail request and would consider it for five days before making a ruling.
About 500 workers stood in front of the Kampong Speu Provincial Court yesterday to show support for the Free Trade Union leaders and members who have been in custody since a demonstration for higher wages in front of the factory turned violent, causing property damage and injuring at least 23 people – including nine police officers.
The melee occurred when FTU members clashed with police and members of the Coalition of the Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, who continued working at the factory – a supplier for Nike – rather than join the strike.
The three union leaders and five workers are charged with initiating deliberate violence and intentional damages.
Outside the courthouse, Moeun Tom, 32, who has worked at the factory for five years, said the workers would continue protesting until the eight were freed.
“They are not guilty, so the two charges against them are completely wrong,” Tom said.
Eang Luot, a 49-year-old resident of Kong Pisey district’s Trapaing Veng village, cooked 140 cans of her own rice to provide free food for the protesters.
“I feel so much pain for the workers, so I will cook for them until I run out of rice,” Luot said. “My son protested for a higher salary, but he received violence instead.”
Elsewhere yesterday, Kong Athit, vice president of C.CAWDU, said at a press conference that his union would sue the FTU if their president, Chea Mony, continued to publicly state that C.CAWDU instigated the violence.
Responding to the threat of legal action, FTU deputy secretary-general Thorn Thol said the union maintained that C.CAWDU members initiated the clash.
“It is their right to sue us. We cannot prohibit their right,” Thol said. “But the FTU maintains its claim.”