Nine of the 10 people arrested in connection with Friday’s violent clash between police and workers outside the Terratex Knitting and Garment International Factory Ltd were released Monday as human rights observers monitored a district government inquiry into a union leader’s contribution to the conflict, officials said.
Phnom Penh municipal police freed the nine suspects after an investigation determined they did not contribute to the violence that left one worker and one police officer dead outside the Meanchey district factory, Deputy Municipal Police Chief Heng Pov said.
“They have the right to join the demonstration, but they are not the people that created the violation,” he said.
One suspect, arrested Sunday for impersonating the dead worker’s brother, remained in custody Monday. Mao Piseth, 25, said he was offered $20 to hold a picture of the deceased, Mao Vuthy, 30, and cry at a memorial service.
“I am not a relative of the dead victim,” he said. “I did it for the money because I am poor.”
Mao Piseth, formerly identified as Yim Piseth, never received the $20. His case is scheduled for hearing in Phnom Penh Municipal Court today, Heng Pov said.
Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs spokesman Ker Soksidney said Monday that Mao Piseth likely was paid by someone who wanted to embarrass the government during the weeklong Asean meetings that began Monday.
On Sunday, Ker Soksidney blamed anti-government groups for the violence, a charge Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay denied. He accused the CPP of instigating the clash.
National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia President Morm Nhim, believed to be closely linked to the CPP, said she did not encourage workers to turn violent after striking for a week.
She said on CPP-run Bayon TV Sunday that she did not know which group infiltrated her strike, but wondered if Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia President Chea Vichea was involved.
Chea Vichea was questioned at the Meanchey district governor’s office Monday about his involvement while monitors from the US Embassy, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and local human rights groups waited outside.
Cambodia Legal Aid lawyer Lean Chinda said Meanchey district Cabinet Chief Huy Sarin accused her client of instigating the violence, a charge Chea Vichea denied. No charges were filed against Chea Vichea.
(Reporting by Saing Soenthrith, Lor Chandara, Yun Samean and Kate Woodsome)