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21 Jul 2021

Khy Sovuthy, CamboJA

Cambodia: Phnom Penh Municipal Court press additional charges of plotting against three convicted environmental rights defenders; CSOs leaders criticise the charges

"Three convicted Mother Nature activists handed an additional plotting charge", 21 July 2021

Three environmental activists convicted … on incitement charges related to a planned protest have been handed a new charge of ‘plotting’ by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in connection with an ongoing case against four other activists.

The trio, members of the environmental group Mother Nature, have been in prison …, when they were arrested for planning a one-woman march to raise awareness of the impact of filling in lakes for development in the capital…

Rights group Licadho said Thon Ratha, Long Kunthea, and Phuon Keoreaksmey were handed an additional charge of plotting and questioned by the Municipal Court this week. If found guilty, they could face up to 10 years in prison…

Sam Chamroeun, who represented the three in their last case, said Ratha was questioned …, Kunthea was questioned … and Ms Keoreaksmey was questioned …, but said they refused to talk without their lawyers present…

Attorney Sam Sokong said that all three activists were summoned for questioning over the new charges, which are connected with a second case involving activists who were arrested in June and charged with plotting and insulting the king, after reportedly taking photos of sewage being released into the Tonle Sap River near the Royal Palace.

… Am Sam Ath, deputy director of Licadho, said the charges were clearly aimed at silencing criticism among others.

“That additional charge for them is a threat and [aimed to] pressure environmental activists and other youths who want to join to protect the environment,” he said, adding that the government should support those trying to better Cambodia…