The Kompong Cham Provincial Court on Wednesday released five factory workers on bail three weeks after they were charged with instigating violence and destroying property during a protest that turned violent at the Juhui Footwear factory late last month, according to their lawyer.
Clashes at the factory in Choeung Prey district erupted on October 25 after nearly two months of strikes over bonus pay and other benefits, during which the company fired all 5,000 employees then rehired 3,000 of them.
The 2,000 excluded workers claimed they were blacklisted for being members of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU), which led the strikes.
On the day of the clashes, 10 people were arrested after police found a baton, a samurai-style sword and slingshots at the scene—evidence of incitement, they said—but five were released the next day due to a lack of evidence.
Wednesday’s bail order, signed by Investigating Judge Pok Sovanmony, says the court prosecutor agreed to release the remaining five defendants following a request by their lawyer, Kim Socheat of the Cambodian Labor Confederation.
“The court decided to release the five accused people on bail as their release will not unduly affect legal proceedings, but they must present themselves to the court when summoned,” the order says.
The five released were Khun Sokhom, 31, a CCAWDU official; Mom Sarem, 29, a fired worker and former union representative at the factory; Bien Sarim, 35, another fired worker; and two truck drivers who transported workers to the factory, Neth Pisey, 22, and Kang Savuth, 24.
“The court investigating judge decided to release my clients this afternoon on the condition that all five people must show up anytime the court requires them,” Mr. Socheat said Wednesday.
CCAWDU’s Mr. Sokhom said the court’s decision to release them on bail did not represent justice.
“Being released only on bail is not fair for me or the other four people,” he said. “What would be fair is if the court dropped the charges against us because we are not guilty of what the company accuses us of.”
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