Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun on Wednesday filed a complaint to the Appeal Court against the suspended jail term handed down by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for his alleged role in 2014 Veng Sreng Boulevard protests that turned violent.
On December 11, six union leaders were given two and a half year suspended sentences for “intentional acts of violence with aggravating circumstances”, and ordered to pay five million riel (around $1,250) each in compensation to two plaintiffs.
Pav Sina of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, Yang Sophorn, of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, Ath Thorn, of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, Mom Nhim, of the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia, and Chea Mony, the former president of the Free Trade Union, were also convicted.
Sina, Sophorn and Thorn have already filed appeals and are awaiting a court date.
Chhun told The Post on Wednesday that he was innocent and was not even on Veng Sreng Boulevard when the protests occurred.
His lawyer had previously told the court that he, Sina and Sophorn were attending a meeting with the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training regarding workers’ wages at the time of the incident.
He said the January 2014 protests sought an increase in the minimum wage for garment workers to $160 per month and that he and the workers were victims, not criminals.
“I filed a complaint to the Appeal Court because I cannot accept the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision. The decision was unfair for me and five other union leaders."
Chhun said he expects to receive justice and have the charges against him dropped “if the court practices the law in a professional manner”.
Thorn said he had filed an appeal on December 12 and hoped the court would render him justice because the charge against him was unreasonable.
“The Appeal Court has not summoned [me] to a hearing regarding this case. We are still waiting."
“We will not only appeal this time, we will appeal at all legal stages until they drop the charges. We don’t know when the court will summon us. I hope the Appeal Court will give us justice,” he said.
Neither Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Ly Sophana nor Appeal Court spokesman Touch Tharith could be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said on December 12 that he believed three of those convicted, Mony, Sina and Thorn, were innocent.