Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Deported activist Gonzalez-Davidson ‘charged’

Deported activist Gonzalez-Davidson ‘charged’

Activist Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson is escorted out of a riverside restaurant by authorities last year in Phnom Penh. Mony Sar
Activist Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson is escorted out of a riverside restaurant by authorities last year in Phnom Penh. Mony Sar

Deported activist Gonzalez-Davidson ‘charged’

Environmental activist Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, deported by immigration officials nearly a year ago, has been charged by the Koh Kong Provincial Court along with two co-founders of his NGO Mother Nature, according to the wife of one of the group’s three detained activists.

Tha Sophea, wife of jailed activist Sem Samnang, said yesterday that when she visited her husband at the provincial prison on January 30, he told her that Davidson along with monks Sok Chantra and Prom Dhammajat have been charged by the court as accomplices to the same alleged crime that resulted in the original arrests.

Try Sovikea, Sun Mala and Lem Samnang were arrested in August over their anti-sand dredging activities and charged with threatening to cause destruction, defacement or damage and ordering others to do so. They were denied bail in September.

“According to my husband, the court charged [Davidson, Chantra and Dhammajat] of being accomplices; they said that my husband’s protest was backed by those … people,” Sophea said.

Asked to verify whether Davidson and the two monks have been charged, Koh Kong Provincial Court director Huon Many, insisted he didn’t know, telling reporters to “ask the prosecutor since the warrant has not reached me yet”.

But he then went on to hint at the basis of any potential charges. “If there is an additional charge, it will be laid on the [financial] backers, since the investigation showed that there are people who provided the money,” he said, referencing the investigation against the already detained activists.

"It's time for me to return": Read Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson's letter to the editor

The provincial court director today confirmed that the investigation has wrapped, though a trial date has not been set.

Prosecutor Bu Bunheang declined to comment while investigating judge Chhun Davy could not be reached.

Am Sam Ath, technical coordinator for rights group Licadho and defence counsel for the detained Mother Nature activists, said yesterday that his team was pushing for the court to publicly confirm the charges.

Speaking yesterday, Davidson – who was deported last February 23 – characterised the actions by the court as “illogical” given that he is currently barred from entering the country and unable to appear in court.

“It’s denying my right to a fair trial,” he said, adding “I’m not going to lie and say I’m not afraid of going to jail.”

Meanwhile, opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, in a letter signed off on by National Assembly President Heng Samrin yesterday, requested that the Ministry of Mines and Energy disclose environmental impact assessments as well as government revenue from the sand-dredging operations in Koh Kong province at the centre of the Mother Nature case.

Additional reporting by Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

MOST VIEWED

  • Sihanoukville building collapse death toll rises to 19

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on Sunday that the government will act against those responsible for the collapse of a seven-storey building in Sihanoukville on Saturday, which resulted in 19 dead and 24 injured as of Sunday evening. Sar Kheng said three Chinese nationals and one

  • Gov’t to probe Chinese exports to US via Sihanoukville

    The government is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are using Chinese-owned special economic zones in Cambodia to export goods to the US and avoid tariffs, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay. The move comes after US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said the US had

  • Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

    Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials

  • Funcinpec ‘set to sell their headquarters’, says source

    An anonymous source from Funcinpec said acting president Prince Norodom Chakravuth had held a meeting with other officials to discuss selling several of the party headquarters across the country while the party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh receives medical treatment at the Royal Phnom Penh Hospital