Court Releases Activist, Former Capitol Tours Bus Driver on Bail

Former Capitol Tours bus driver Nan Vanna and labor activist Ros Siphay were released on bail Wednesday, nearly two months after they were arrested for taking part in a demonstration against the company during which protesters were attacked by a mob of angry tuk-tuk drivers.

Ros Piseth, an investigating judge at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said the men had been released on bail after assuring court officials that they would appear at the court when called.

“They have been released on bail because they made a promise with the court to appear whenever they are summoned,” Judge Piseth said, declining to comment further.

Mr. Vanna and Mr. Siphay were detained and charged in the wake of a demonstration in February outside the Capitol Tours depot in Prampi Makara district, where dozens of fired bus drivers and supporters from the Cambodian Labor Confederation had been protesting against what they claimed were dismissals of the drivers for attempting to unionize.

When the protesters attempted to block a bus from leaving the station, a group of about 50 helmeted tuk-tuk drivers descended on them with metal rods, wooden sticks and hammers, according to rights group Licadho. Mr. Vanna was beaten bloody. Four labor leaders were also charged over the incident but not arrested.

Contacted after his release Wednesday, Mr. Vanna called the charges against him “an injustice,” noting that the tuk-tuk drivers—members of the Cambodia for Confederation Development Association (CCDA)—were the only ones who had used violence.

“For me, this is an injustice because I was standing with a banner and then the tuk-tuk drivers of CCDA beat us. How are we the guilty ones?” he said.

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labor Confederation, who is among those facing charges, welcomed the release.

“I’m happy they have been released on bail, but the court was wrong to imprison the victims. It was the group from the CCDA who started the violence but they are still free,” he said.

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