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Spanish nature activist court hearing begins

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Enviromental activist Alex Gonzalez-Davidson talks during a 2014 Mother Nature press conference in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Spanish nature activist court hearing begins

The Koh Kong provincial court on Tuesday heard the case of Spanish environmental activist Alejandro “Alex” Gonzalez-Davidson, who is accused of being an accomplice in “threatening to cause destruction, defacement or damage” and inciting others to do the same.

Gonzalez-Davidson’s defence lawyer, Sam Chamroeun, said the court heard the case in the absence of his client and the verdict was due to be delivered on August 22.

Provincial court spokesman Un Sovantheany confirmed that the outspoken activist’s case was being heard, saying: “The court is hearing the case according to legal procedures.”

Gonzalez-Davidson was charged with being an accomplice in threatening to cause destruction, defacement or damage and inciting others to do the same according to Articles 29 and 424 of the Criminal Code.

The offences were allegedly committed in the Prek Andong Teuk area in Botum Sakor district’s Andong Teuk commune between July 26 and 28, 2015.

The case involved alleged repeated obstruction of sand-dredging activities in Koh Kong province.

Gonzalez-Davidson is the co-founder of NGO Mother Nature Cambodia and his case is linked to an event in July 2015 when three environmental activists from the NGO – San Mala, Sim Samnang and Try Sovikea – boarded sand dredging vessels operated by a company called Direct Access.

Mala, Samnang and Sovikea were later arrested and sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined a total of $25,500 by the Koh Kong provincial court in 2016.

They were released after serving 10 months, with the remaining eight months suspended.

Gonzalez-Davidson told The Post on Tuesday that the charges brought against him were illegitimate and were not in accordance with legal procedures.

“How can I be an accomplice when there was no crime?

“Mother Nature activists Sim Samnang, San Mala and Try Sovikea were peacefully protesting against the illegal sand dredging in July and August 2015,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Environment admitted in 2017 that the dredging affected the environment.

He said he attempted to return to Cambodia from Spain to attend the hearing on Tuesday but his visa application was rejected.

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