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29 May 2024

Khuon Narim & Ly Rosslan, CamboJA

Cambodia: A court hearing against environmental activists under way; activists deny charges of insulting the King and plotting to topple govt.

"Phnom Penh Court Hears Mother Nature Activists’ Case on Plotting, Insulting the King", 29 May 2024

Phnom Penh Municipal Court heard the case involving 10 environmental activists, including co-founder of Mother Nature Spanish national Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, who were charged for plotting to overthrow the government and insulting the King.

The charge stems from a Zoom meeting …, where a video clip was posted on a Facebook account called “Kamchatchunkbot” , meaning “defeat the traitor” in Khmer, which served as evidence of the activists’ alleged plot to topple the government.

The footage taken from the Zoom meeting showed the participants allegedly using “disrespectful language” against former Prime Minister Hun Sen and King Norodom Sihamoni.

Gonzalez-Davidson and defendants Yim Leanghy and Sun Ratha were charged for insulting the King and plotting against the government.

Ly Chandaravuth, Thon Ratha, Long Kunthea, Phuon Keoreaksmey, Penh Piseth, Vei Reaksa and Pork Khoeuy were charged for plotting against the government.

During … trial, only five defendants – Leanghy, Chandaravuth, Ratha, Kunthea, and Keoreaksmey appeared in court. They were dressed in white outfits, to show that they were in “mourning over the loss of justice”.

… About 20 supporters gathered outside the Phnom Penh Municipal to support the environmental activists, holding up banners which read, “the work of environmental protection is not illegal” and “we support Mother Nature’s activists”.

… NGO Partnership for Environment and Development head of network and advocacy San Mala, who monitored the hearing, called on the court to drop all charges against the activists who have sacrificed their energy to protect the environment and public interest.

“We see that the courts always prosecute and arrest environmental activists and put them in jail,” he said…