Fourth Bail Hearing, Trial Date Set for Vorn Pao

A fourth bail hearing has been set for detained labor leader Vorn Pao ahead of his trial this month, alongside 22 others, for their role in garment strikes in Phnom Penh in January.

Already denied bail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on January 21 and the Court of Appeal on February 11 and March 25, the ailing president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association will have his request heard again by the municipal court this Friday ahead of his trial, which will be held on April 18.

Va Sakada, the court’s deputy prosecutor, confirmed that the trial would be held on April 18.

Both men were rounded up and beaten during a crackdown on the strikes. They are suffering from health problems that their lawyers say should see them freed: Mr. Pao has kidney problems, while Mr. Sombath Piseth has a broken hand.

“We asked bail for Mr. Piseth since he has a broken hand and he needs to get treatment. If he doesn’t within five months, he will never recover,” said his lawyer, Muth Piseth.

Mr. Pao’s lawyer, Kim Socheat, said there are sufficient grounds for his release because the charges against him have been lowered from “causing acts of violence and damage” to “obstructing public traffic” and “incitement to commit a felony.”

“Since the court changed the charges, we therefore hope that it will make it easy for him to be bailed, since the punishment is not a serious crime,” he said.

Three separate trials of the 23 suspects are to be held on April 18. Only two have been bailed.

Mr. Pao was not transported to his latest bail hearing because, the prison director said, he had “problems with his van.”

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