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3 More Cambodian Activists Sentenced to Jail


Cambodian police detain a Buddhist monk who was demonstrating for the release of seven convicted land-rights activists in Phnom Penh, Nov. 11, 2014.

Cambodian police detain a Buddhist monk who was demonstrating for the release of seven convicted land-rights activists in Phnom Penh, Nov. 11, 2014.

A court in Phnom Penh has sentenced three more activists to a year in prison each, just a day after they were arrested.

They were convicted Wednesday of disturbing public order, the same charge leveled against seven land-rights activists who were convicted Tuesday after they had protested against flooding in a major Phnom Penh development.

Those convicted Wednesday were arrested and charged in connection with a protest they held in support of the other activists.

Trials in Cambodia are rarely conducted as quickly as these hearings. Under normal circumstances, defendants will wait weeks or more before their cases go to trial. It was not known why these cases were expedited or whether the developments signaled a new government crackdown on dissent. Government officials have not commented on the proceedings.

Meanwhile, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party is demanding the release of one of its members, who was arrested Tuesday on an outstanding warrant for his alleged participation in a major protest outside Freedom Park on July 15.

Meach Sovannara, a former Radio Free Asia reporter, was questioned for two hours Tuesday before being held on charges of insurrection. The protest he was accused of participating in, which became violent after demonstrators turned on security personnel, led to an eventual political deal between the opposition and the ruling party, but only after a number of arrests were made.

Sovannara faces up to 15 years in prison for his role in the demonstration. He was accused of inciting violence, but his lawyer told the Cambodia Daily that video evidence would exonerate Sovannara, showing him calling for protesters to refrain from violence.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

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