Chea Mony Set To Return; Charges Still Stand

Free Trade Union President Chea Mony is scheduled to return to Cambodia today despite char­ges of criminal defamation for criticizing Prime Minister Hun Sen over border negotiations with Vi­et­nam, the FTU said in a statement.

Chea Mony will return from France at 9:40 am carrying a letter thank­ing Prime Minister Hun Sen for asking the court not to jail him, said FTU Secretary-General Mann Seng Hak.

The FTU statement invited foreign dignitaries, human rights workers and the media to monitor Chea Mony’s return.

“We are very happy because we’ll have him to work with us,” Mann Seng Hak said, before predicting that approximately 300 people would gather for the union leader’s arrival.

“I think the government won’t arrest him, but he might be summoned to the court,” he said.

Hun Sen said in a Jan 24 speech that he would ask the court to be lenient toward border critics ac­cused of defamation if they submitted letters of thanks similar to those that helped secure the re­lease of other critics from prison.

Chea Mony, who is the brother of slain union leader Chea Vichea, said by phone from France on Jan 25 that he would not be sending a letter to the prime minister.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said that only court officials could answer questions about whether Chea Mony would be arrested or brought in for questioning.

“Hun Sen made it clear that…we want to smooth everything,” Khieu Kanharith said. “But you know very well who started the fight.”

Chuon Mom Thol, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions and Cambodian Union Federation, said that Chea Mony had “overused his freedom” and would have to apologize to Hun Sen or be held accountable for his actions.

“We are leaders,” Chuon Mom Thol said. “Right, we have to be responsible, wrong, we have to be responsible.”


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