Court Begins Investigations In Factory Defamation Suits

The president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Union was summoned to Phnom Penh Municipal Court Monday to an­swer questions regarding two counts of defamation, the union lead­er said Monday.

The New Orient Garment Fac­to­ry is suing CCAWDU President Chhorn Sokha for a statement she made in a Jan 17 Cam­bo­dia Daily article. Chhorn Sokha was quoted as saying, “We held the strike be­cause the factory doesn’t respect the labor law. The factory forced the workers to strike.”

New Orient’s lawyer David Cha­naiwa has said the statement was defamatory because Chhorn Sokha had no evidence to support her allegations.

Chanaiwa also has filed a suit on his own behalf against Chhorn Sokha for a Cambodia Daily story printed Jan 21, in which she said five union members were allowed to return home from court be­cause the plaintiff, represented by Chanaiwa, lacked proper documentation to try the case. “She should be accountable for making certain accusations. I definitely had enough documents,” he said.

The union leader denies both charges.

She said Monday that the lawsuits are aimed more to harass the unions than to re­store the plaintiff’s tarnished names.

“They want to…intimidate the union,” she said.

Chhorn Sokha said if New Orient and Chanaiwa did not drop their suits, she will countersue.

On Tues­day, Municipal Court Chief Prose­cu­tor Uk Savuth confirmed that he began his investigation into the two cases Monday.

“If they don’t stop their lawsuits, I will sue the factory,” Chhorn Sokha said. “And the lawyer I will sue back because he didn’t have legal documents from the factory to sue the union members.”

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