About 300 demonstrators gathered in front of Prey Sar Prison and Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday to protest the continuing imprisonment of two union members who were arrested after being attacked and beaten during a February 6 protest.
Former Capitol Bus Company driver Norn Vanna and Cambodia Labour Confederation member Ros Siphay were arrested after their protest – part of an ongoing strike by Capitol drivers – was attacked by members of the Cambodia for Confederation Development Association, which represents tuk-tuk drivers and motodops. None of the alleged attackers were arrested.
Instead, Vanna and Siphay were charged on February 9 with intentional violence, aggravation against authorities and blocking traffic. Four fellow protesters were charged in absentia.
Yesterday, investigating judge Ros Piseth denied them bail to “prevent more incidents”, according to the decision.
Ath Thorn, a prominent garment union leader and one of the four additional protesters charged, said: “We are not the troublemakers but the victims; the perpetrators are members of the tuk-tuk association, but the courts and police charged us instead.”
Vanna’s defence attorney Kim Socheat said yesterday that he has new evidence for the judge to consider that could exculpate both suspects but could not yet be divulged. Judge Piseth could not be reached for comment.