Court Questions Union Leader a Second Time

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court questioned independent union leader Ath Thorn for the second time Monday over his alleged incitement of garment workers at a strike in November, during which police responded to rock-throwing youths with live fire and a bystander was shot dead.

Mr. Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, has long insisted he was not even at the protest. He said he stood by this story during Monday’s questioning.

“The [investigating] judge asked me where I was at 4 p.m. on November 1, 2013, and I told him I was working at my office until 7 p.m. Now the judge asked me to bring witnesses who saw me working at the office,” he said.

Mr. Thorn’s lawyer, Kim Socheat, said the judge, Chea Sok Heang, would summon the witnesses within the next two weeks.

“We will prepare witnesses for the court and call them to prove that Mr. Ath Thorn was at his office during the incident,” Mr. Socheat said.

Mr. Sok Heang could not be reached for comment, but a court clerk, San Sakny, confirmed that Monday’s questioning took place.

Mr. Thorn is also appealing a court order that he stay away from the factory where the November protest occurred and refrain from meeting with its workers.

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