Cambodian labor leader’s trial for border remarks begins

The trial of a Cambodian labor union leader charged with inciting social unrest opened in Phnom Penh on Friday, part of a large-scale legal offensive by the government against its critics.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, is standing trial for “incitement to commit felony” for comments concerning territory in border areas, a politically sensitive issue. If found guilty, he could face from six months to two years in prison.

Rong Chhun was arrested in July after the government claimed he spread false information about Cambodia’s border with Vietnam. He has been held in detention ever since. A week before his arrest, Rong Chhun gave an interview to U.S. government-supported Radio Free Asia in which he spoke about meeting farmers in eastern Cambodia who complained about their land being infringed upon by neighboring Vietnam.

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