Court Urged to Suspend Garment Union Leader

Two former board members of the country’s largest independent garment sector union asked the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday to suspend president Ath Thorn and two fellow officials over allegations of embezzlement.

Oum Visal and Roeung Chanthorn, founding board members of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, accuse Mr. Thorn, his deputy and his secretary general of stealing $93,000 from members after successfully negotiating a settlement with a Phnom Penh factory in 2008, a claim all three deny.

Mr. Visal and Mr. Chanthorn filed an injunction request with the court in April, asking to replace the trio as the union’s leaders until the case is settled, and pressed their request in a closed-door meeting with Judge Ly Lipmeng on Wednesday.

Sam Chamroeun, the ex-board members’ lawyer, said he urged the judge to approve the injunction but refused to reveal what evidence he had against the accused.

“I do not dare to reveal the evidence, but it will help to implicate those union leaders,” he said.

Kim Socheat, Mr. Thorn’s lawyer in the case, said the ex-board members had yet to present a shred of evidence to back their claims and said none was presented during Wednesday’s questioning either.

“I have never seen any evidence since they filed the complaint,” he said. “They just claim that they have enough evidence, but they have not shown any documents.”

Judge Lipmeng could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Socheat said the judge did not decide whether to approve the injunction request Wednesday and ended the meeting by telling both sides that he would let them know when he settled on a date to make the announcement.

Mr. Thorn was scheduled for questioning in the case in late April. But the court postponed that appointment when some 300 of his supporters showed up outside the court to demonstrate.

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