Appeal Court Denies Bail to Environmental Activists

The Court of Appeal on Monday denied bail to three jailed environmental activists from the NGO Mother Nature who were charged last month with threatening to destroy barges operated by a sand-dredging company in Koh Kong province.

In the weeks before their arrest on August 17, the activists—Sim Samnang, 29; Tri Sovichea, 26; and Sun Mala, 24—led a campaign to stop dredging in the Andoung Toek estuary in Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor district, which they blamed for pollution, riverbank collapses and dwindling fish stocks.

Their bail request was rejected by the Koh Kong Provincial Court on August 31, and on Monday, the Appeal Court followed suit, citing the possibility that the men would flee.

“If we allowed those people out on bail, it would be difficult for us to call them back,” Phou Povsun, a judge at the court, said by telephone Monday.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, which has provided a lawyer for the activists, said he was disappointed by the Appeal Court’s decision, but not surprised.

“I think the court did not allow the three activists out on bail because they are afraid [they] will commit a crime and also create turmoil,” he said.

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