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Cambodia's Rainsy Attends Court Hearings on Protest Unrest

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy appeared before a Phnom Penh court Tuesday to answer claims of "inciting civil unrest" during a recent labor protest.

Five people were killed during a police crackdown on the early January protest, which was calling for higher wages for workers at a garment factory near the capital.

Sam Rainsy's Cambodia National Rescue Party has supported the protests, but denies inciting the violence, saying the charges are politically motivated.



"It's not justice for me. It's justice for the Cambodian people. Please always remain calm and always struggle peacefully."



Sam Rainsy and his deputy, Kem Sokha, were greeted by thousands of supporters as they arrived at the Phnom Penh court for questioning.

Mu Sochua, an opposition member of parliament, said the government has no evidence to support its claims that the CNRP incited the violence.



"This is the mockery of justice. We are the people fighting for justice, fighting with non-violence, non-violent means. We seek democracy, non-violence means true peace for Cambodia."



In the January 3 incident, five people were killed and 40 injured by an elite military unit that fired into a crowd protesting outside Phnom Penh.



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

Following the clashes, the government announced an indefinite, general ban on protests, although small, unauthorized protests have continued.

The government has not charged Sam Rainsy with a crime regarding the clashes.

The CNRP has been demanding that longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen step down and call a new election because of alleged fraud in a July poll.

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

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