PHNOM Penh Municipal Court is to rule today on charges of inciting destruction of property filed by private developer 7NG against representatives of the Dey Krahorm shanty community it evicted last month.
7NG and the municipality late last month launched a blitz eviction of the scores of families remaining in the 3.6-hectare community who had declined the developer's compensation offer of a relocation home or US$20,000.
The charges stem from an incident in December 2007, in which residents allegedly destroyed a 7NG excavator and injured its driver after the vehicle was brought into the area late at night.
Chan Vichet, Ly Yuleng and Bun Thoeun were accused of inciting violence, and after the incident they said they had feared a rapid, unannounced eviction.
All three accused have denied the charges. Chan Vichet, the most high-profile of the three, has argued that during the incident he in fact appealed to residents over a loudspeaker not to react to what he described as an intentionally provocative move by 7NG.
"I have done nothing wrong and having nothing to fear," he said.
"Pure gold is never afraid of fire," he added.
The three-lawyer defence team, provided by local rights group Licadho, has described the charges as baseless.
"There is no real evidence against my clients," lawyer Ham Sunrith said. "Their testimony has come only from people working for the company, which is not acceptable testimony."