Eight More Charged Over Violent Factory Protest

A court official at the Kompong Speu Provincial Court said Monday that a total of 16 union representatives have been charged with damaging property and inciting violence during a protest outside a garment factory earlier this month, twice the number of arrests previously confirmed.

Provincial Judge Chhim Ritthy said Monday the additional eight union representatives from Taiwanese-owned Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment MFG Corp., which produces clothing for U.S. sports brand Nike, are still at large and were charged after the factory filed a law suit against them.

“In the case, there are 16 people charged and they are FTU [Free Trade Union] representatives and workers at Sabrina,” Judge Ritthy said. “The company says that they damaged the factory property and incited the violence.”

During the protests held outside Sabrina in late May and early June, workers clashed with police over higher wages. In the aftermath of the protests, authorities confirmed that eight FTU representatives were arrested and charged with damaging factory property and inciting violence.

“We will summon the other eight people but the date hasn’t been set yet,” Judge Ritthy said.

Kuch Ratha, a lawyer for the FTU, confirmed that 16 representatives have been charged.

“The eight others are now in hiding,” he said, adding that the Sabrina garment factory had sued the FTU for $150,000 in damages done to the factory.

FTU president Chea Mony continued to deny on Monday that his representatives had any role in instigating the violence during the protest.

“It was Sabrina’s management who told police to start the violence and they took microphones from protesters. It was Sabrina’s management who is behind everything,” Mr. Mony said.

He added that the FTU submitted a letter to City Hall on Monday asking for permission to march from Freedom Park to the U.S. Embassy on Sunday to protest against the jailing of their representatives.

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