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15 Gen 2021

Khuon Narim, CamboJA

Cambodia: Phnom Penh Municipal Court hear a case of prominent union leader arrested after his Facebook's comments

"Rong Chhun’s incitement trial kicks off to a heated start", 15 January 2021

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court began a trial … into incitement charges against prominent unionist Rong Chhun, with the hearing getting fiery as all parties sparred over the facts of the case.

Rong Chhun, who is president of Cambodian Confederation of Unions, was arrested … for a Facebook post and comments he made …

The three-hour hearing also raised questions over an organization Rong Chhun works with, Cambodia Watchdog Council, and whether it was officially registered.

During the trial, Chhun denied accusations that he had attempted to incite people with his comments and said he was using his right to freedom of expression to raise an important issue.

“It was not incitement because I posted [the comments] from July 21 to July 31 and there was no movement to cause turmoil,” he said. “If there was disturbance in society it was after I was arrested and youth activists started protesting.”

… Chhun’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, immediately objected to the judge’s accusatory line of questioning.

“The judge’s questioning seemed biased and he was making an assumption that my client is guilty, and so that means we can’t find justice for my client,” he said after the trial…

Soeng Senkaruna, a senior investigator at rights group ADHOC and a trial attendee, said the trial raised questions if Chhun was getting a fair shot at justice and whether the court was open to exculpatory evidence to support the unionist’s case.

“I have no hope that the court will provide justice to Rong Chhun,” he said…

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