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Judge grills activist on anti-dredging efforts

Judge grills activist on anti-dredging efforts

The questioning of three environmental activists arrested over their anti-sand-dredging activities in Koh Kong province began yesterday, as police attempted to quell protests organised by their supporters.

San Mala, Try Sovikea and Sim Somnang – all activists affiliated with local NGO Mother Nature – were arrested on Monday and charged with threatening to cause damage during protests against a Vietnamese company accused of illegally dredging in a local estuary.

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator with rights group Licadho, which is providing legal representation to the group, said investigating judge Chhun Davy visited the provincial prison yesterday morning, where she questioned Samnang.

“Questioning of the other two youths was postponed,” he said.

“I think it’s because people were protesting outside the prison to demand that they release the activists that the judge suspended the questioning without setting a new date.”

Davy could not be reached.

Mother Nature activist Sorn Chandara said nearly 100 people from districts across the province gathered yesterday to call for the trio’s release, but many were blocked by police.

“When people were protesting at the prison there wasn’t any violence – they pushed forward to try and get inside to visit them, but police blocked them,” he said.

“When others were travelling from their communities [to the prison], the police also blocked them.”

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