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Unionist’s case hazy

Union president Ath Thorn
Union president Ath Thorn speaks to the media in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court in April after being charged with incitement. Heng Chivoan

Unionist’s case hazy

After a third day of questioning, during which the plaintiff’s story allegedly changed, the head of Cambodia’s largest independent garment union is in the dark as to where his case stands.

Investigating judge Chea Sok Heang yesterday did not set a date for further questioning and has not recommended that the complaint filed in Phnom Penh Municipal Court against Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union president Ath Thorn go to trial.

“How can the judge continue the case?” Thorn asked after the one-hour session. “It should be dropped.”

The court charged Thorn and union activist Pav Phanna with incitement in April after Sath Sophai, a security guard at SL Garment Processing, filed a complaint alleging he was injured during an incident at a strike led by Thorn’s union on November 1.

Thorn’s attorney, Kim Socheat, asked that the case be dropped, Thorn said, because Sophai in March told the court he saw Thorn inciting a mob. But during testimony in May, he said he only heard Thorn’s voice.

Thorn maintains he was at his office when security guards and strikers allegedly hurled rocks and flung marbles with slingshots at each other.

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