Four Garment Workers Arrested For Walkout Released on Bail

Four garment workers arrested during walkouts and riots at two special economic zones in Svay Rieng province in December were released on bail Tuesday evening, four days after being granted bail by the Court of Appeal.

Van Vichet, 24; Paldy Somalyda, 27; Sok Kong, 28; and Chheng So­pha, 35, had an earlier decision de­nying them bail overturned on Fri­day, defeating a request from the Garment Manufacturers Asso­cia­tion in Cambodia that they not be re­leased due to fears of more industrial action.

The initial bail denial contravened an agreement between the provincial government and un­ions that brought a peaceful end to the tu­mult that rocked the two industrial parks for nearly a week, sparked by demands for higher wages at the Kingmaker Cam­bodia factory.

“All of four workers were re­leased from prison at about 7:30 p.m.,” said Heng Bong, the law­yer for the four men.

“Now it’s a good opportunity for them to meet their families,” she said, adding that they had been in detention since their ar­rests on December 17 and 18.

She said she did not know why it had taken so long to release them, but suggested that Lunar New Year celebrations may have delayed the necessary paperwork. Even today, she added, the release was delayed by two hours while the court decision was verified by prison officials.

Ms. Bong said she did not know, either, when the case would head to trial. The four are charged with incitement, intentional violence and property damage related to riots at the Tai Seng and Manhattan special economic zones.

Provincial court clerk Khuon Ra could not be reached Tuesday evening.

Mr. Kong said he was happy to be released but insisted that the initial arrest and detention were unfair.

“Arresting and jailing me was unjust because I didn’t even join the protests at the factory,” he said. “I simply left the factory to take my wife home from work, when more than 10 police officers arrested me claiming I was in­volved in a riot at the factory.”

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