The Koh Kong provincial court on Thursday dropped the case against Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, the founder of environmental NGO Mother Nature.
Gonzalez-Davidson had been charged with being an accomplice in “threatening to cause destruction, defacement or damage” and inciting others to do the same under articles 29 and 424 of the Criminal Code.
“The trial judges ruled to free Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson from the charges,” said Koh Kong Provincial Court spokesperson Un Sovantheany.
Gonzalez-Davidson was alleged to have committed the offences in the Prek Andong Teuk area of Botum Sakor district’s Andong Teuk commune in Koh Kong province between July 26 and 28, 2015.
The case centred around the alleged repeated obstruction of sand-dredging operations.
Three Mother Nature Cambodia activists, San Mala, Sim Samnang and Try Sovikea, were in 2016 sentenced to 18 months in prison for “threatening to cause destruction,defacement or damage”. They were fined a total of more than $25,000.
The three were released after having served 10 months in prison, with the remaining eight months suspended.
“The court dropped the case, but we are not sure whether the prosecutor will appeal against the judges’ decision.
“The court announced the verdict due to my client’s absence, so I don’t have the complete ruling yet. I am happy there has been a fair result for my client,” Gonzalez-Davidson’s lawyer Sam Chamroeun told The Post on Thursday.
When contacted, Gonzalez-Davidson told The Post that he was pleased to have been exonerated.
“The judges said I was innocent, and if the prosecutor doesn’t file an appeal against the verdict, this will be the first case like this I think I have ever seen.
“I have observed many cases brought against activists and journalists, and if they were charged, I have never seen them freed.
“But I appreciate this. I am very happy as this is justice for me. And I hope this is not the last case in which the judicial system fulfils its role correctly. I would like to thank the judges for making this decision as I am innocent,” Gonzalez-Davidson said.
However, he questioned why the three Mother Nature activists had been convicted and requested King Norodom Sihamoni pardon them.
He also called on the Ministry of Interior to allow him to return to the Kingdom to continue protecting Cambodia’s environment.
Prosecutor Iv Tray told The Post on Thursday that he had yet to decide on filing an appeal. He said he had 30 days in which to do so.