Factory Says Not Responsible For Protesting Workers’ Injuries

A lawyer for a garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district, where four women were injured last week when a truck driver slammed into a group of protesters, said Monday the factory was not responsible because the workers had thrown themselves in front of the speeding vehicle.

On Thursday, about 100 protesting garment workers blocked the exit of the South Korean-owned S.H. International garment factory when Kim Sat, 22, drove a truck full of sewing machines into the group.

Mr. Sat was quickly arrested but released the next day because, according to police, the factory had agreed to pay compensation to the workers.

However, Se Kuthkola, a lawyer for S.H., said the factory had not agreed to anything.

“I think there is no need to be responsible because no final decision has been made that says our company is right or wrong,” she said.

She also claimed to have seen the incident and disputed previous accounts.

“The workers ran in front of the truck themselves. There were about 20 workers in front of the truck and the driver could not put on the brakes,” Ms. Kuthkola said.

She added that the factory had subcontracted work to a transport company and the truck driver was not a factory employee.

A statement released Monday by S.H. identified the company as the Preah Chan Penhvong trucking company.

Hing Bunthoeun, vice president of Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit, said all four injured workers were recovering at home. He added that he believed the company was responsible.

“The company ordered the driver to do it. There is a lot of evidence and witnesses and we filed a complaint with police,” he said. “Why did the police release the suspect?”

Chea Sovann, Pur Senchey district penal police chief, said he released the driver on orders from Um Sopheak, a deputy prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Mr. Sopheak could not be reached for comment.

sokhean@cambodiadaily.com

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