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Union quartet arrested, released in brawl probe

Authorities enter the offices of the Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit earlier this week in Phnom Penh, where they detained four members briefly for questioning. Photo supplied
Authorities enter the offices of the Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit earlier this week in Phnom Penh, where they detained four members briefly for questioning. Photo supplied

Union quartet arrested, released in brawl probe

Four union members were yesterday released after being held overnight for questioning about their alleged involvement in a June brawl between two pro-government unions at the Yorkmars Garment MFG factory in the capital.

The four – Mom Mon, Suos Sokha, Kheng Phirum and Sum Sothea – are members of Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit (KUFWS), which allegedly assaulted workers from the Cambodian Youth Power Union (CUPY), who were protesting against the Por Sen Chey district-based factory.

Following multiple summonses from the police, the four were arrested Tuesday and questioned yesterday at the Interior Ministry, after which they were released for lack of evidence.

“The prosecutor has allowed them to go because we do not have enough evidence to charge them,” said Sok Khemarin, chief of the ministry’s penal police department. Khemarin refused to divulge further details about the day-long questioning.

However, Seang Rithy, CUPY’s director, said it was unfortunate they had been let go, insisting there was evidence of their guilt. “We have … a two-minute video taken by a worker at the scene,” he said. “We saw the video and saw the four men from Mom Seak’s union.”

Rithy was referring to KUFWS’s president, Mom Seak, who in June claimed his union members, also employees of Yorkmars, were only observing CUPY’s strike and uninvolved in the beating of factory workers.

The video, posted on Rithy’s Facebook page, shows about a dozen men wearing medical masks and brandishing walkie-talkies beating the workers, some using the communication devices as weapons – all in the presence of police.

According to CUPY’s statement at the time, a group of “gangsters” started beating three union representatives – Thoeun Dany, Chon In and Kuth Chhiva – when the 300 striking workers prevented a factory truck from leaving the premises.

Yesterday, Seak again reiterated that his members weren’t involved in the scuffle and that the union’s lawyer was working on the case, which has yet to be dropped by the police.

Both Dany and Chhiva said they were disappointed to see the four released, and while they didn’t know their names, knew they were KUFWS members.

“Earlier, we were very happy on hearing that they had been arrested, but now they are released,” Chhiva said. “We still have no justice.”

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