Former Bavet City governor Chhouk Bundith failed to show up Wednesday for the first day of his long-awaited retrial at Svay Rieng Provincial Court for his alleged involvement in a shooting that left three workers wounded, court officials said.
According to provincial Judge Leang Sour, Mr. Bundith’s lawyer arrived at court to request a delay, which was denied. The lawyer then walked out of the hearing, though proceedings went ahead anyway.
“We cannot delay the case because we are afraid it will impact the court procedures,” Mr. Sour said, before declining to comment further.
Mr. Bundith was named as the main suspect in a shooting at a protest by workers from a factory making shoes for German sportswear brand Puma at a Bavet City special economic zone in February 2012. Three women were injured in the incident.
He was charged with causing unintentional injuries and his trial held at Svay Rieng Provincial Court.
In December 2012, the court dropped all charges against Mr. Bundith, citing insufficient evidence, resulting in the Justice Ministry calling on the Court of Appeal to re-investigate the case.
In March, the Appeal Court relevied the charges against Mr. Bundith and sent the case back to the Svay Rieng Provincial Court—a move that has been criticized by rights groups as it is the very same court that threw out the case the first time around.
Nuth Sokhorn, who was shot in the incident, said she had lost all hope of receiving justice from the court that dismissed Mr. Bundith’s charges.
“I don’t have very much hope for the court to find justice but I will wait to see the end of trial,” she said.
Reiner Hengstmann, a representative of Puma who had traveled from Vietnam to observe the court proceedings, expressed disappointment at Mr. Bundith’s absence.
“We hope that by the end of the trial, the justice will come and the victims will receive what they are looking for.”
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