News / Asia

Cambodian Court Issues Verdicts in Post-Election Violence Case

Kimseng MenHeng Reaksmey
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has issued a verdict in a case against six people accused of post-election violence in September.

The court Friday ordered the release of three men, but found three others guilty of incitement of violence.

Nguyen Thi Duc was given a reduced sentence of one year while two others were given reduced sentences of 25 days.  He declined to comment outside the courtroom Friday, but his lawyer said an appeal is planned and accused police of torturing his client into a confession.

All six were arrested in September during violent protests on the outskirts of Phnom Penh that left at least one person dead and 10 injured.

Human rights groups say prosecutors failed to show any evidence the six were involved in the violence.

Am Sam Ath, head of monitoring for the rights group Licadho, says charges should have been dropped for all six.

“They only came across the scene, and the authorities arrested them and put them in jail,” he said.  “The authorities who opened fire and injured and killed people, why have they not been brought to justice?”

The verdicts come amid an ongoing crackdown against labor protesters.  Authorities are still holding 21 people who were detained following an incident in early January, when five were killed and 40 injured by an elite military unit that fired into a crowd protesting outside Phnom Penh.

Kem Sokha, vice president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, led a delegation to meet with the detainees in Kampong Cham province Friday.  He said in an interview with VOA Khmer that the detainees are in strong spirits, although some suffer health problems from beatings they received from security forces.

“I call for the release of the 21 workers and heroic protesters, because they are innocent victims,” he said. “Other people used violence on them, but the perpetrators remain free and the victims are imprisoned.  This is very unjust.”

The protesters were demanding a doubling of the minimum wage to $160 per month.

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

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