The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday dropped the charges against Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina, who had been accused by Ocean Garment Company Ltd of intentional vandalism during a protest in 2012.
The decision raises the prospects for Sina’s six co-accused union leaders – Chheng Chhoan, Chheng Sina, Pen Sithou, Huon Bunna, Tuy Suot and Un Vanduy – who are now also considering lodging appeals.
Investigating Judge Im Vannak decided Sina was not involved in the case, Sina told The Post on Thursday.
“This afternoon, the Phnom Penh lower court announced its verdict, dropping the charges against me of being an accomplice to intentional vandalism that had been lodged by the Ocean Garment company,” he said.
He said it was a good sign for his colleagues and he expected the court to drop the charges in the other six cases that are currently being processed by the court.
“What the judge announced, I am really happy about it and I think the judge will review the others’ cases and, if he considers them with utmost care, he will drop the charges,” Sina said.
The seven men were accused of “public insult and intentionally causing damage” after some 2,000 workers staged a protest at the Ocean Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district on August 13 and 14, 2012, in violation of Articles 307 and 410 of the Criminal Code.
Article 410 involves intentionally defacing or damaging property belonging to another person. The offence is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of four million riel ($1,000).
Article 307 refers to “public insult” and defamation and is punishable by a fine of up to 10 million riel.
After being called to court in January, nearly seven years after the alleged incident, only Pav Sina lodged an appeal.
One of the other six, Chheng Chhoan, told The Post that he applauded the court ruling and expected charges against him to be dropped.
He said the six would lodge an appeal against the ruling in the near future, after discussing it with lawyers.
“I have decided to appeal because the court delivered a fair judgment because we did not commit the offences we are charged with by Ocean Garment.”