takhmau district, kandal province – Kandal Provincial Court on Thursday sentenced in absentia a garment factory security guard to serve 14 months in prison for injuring a federation union leader.
The security chief at Vinstar and Tai Yar Garment Factory in Ponhea Leu district, Riel Sovantuon, was also fined 1 million riel (about $250) for injuring Free Trade Union of the Kingdom of Cambodia President Chea Vichea last year, Kandal Provincial Judge Ros Sarin said.
“Riel Sovantuon injured and abused the FTU president’s rights. Riel Sovantuon is the chief security guard, he should find out about the law,” Ros Sarin said.
Chea Vichea testified that Riel Sovantuon, 45, punched him in the eye on April 27, 2002, as he distributed leaflets urging Vinstar workers to join a Labor Day demonstration.
“Riel Sovantuon asked me whether I had the permission from the local authorities, but I said I don’t need to ask permission. Workers have the right to receive all kinds of information,” Chea Vichea said.
He said he continued distributing fliers after the guard returned to the factory compound.
“Then Riel Sovantuon rushed into me and beat me with his fist on my right eye,” Chea Vichea testified, adding that he received five stitches for the wound.
An investigation confirmed Chea Vichea’s allegations, said Kandal provincial prosecutor Chheng Phath.
“Riel Sovantuon did injure Chea Vichea. He also abused the human rights,” Chheng Phath said.
Riel Sovantuon did not attend Thursday’s hearing because he thought the warrant provincial police served to him was fake, said court clerk Bo Sitha.
Bo Sitha read Riel Sovantuon’s police statement, which acknowledged that both the guard and Chea Vichea used force with each other.
“After we had the fray, I went back to the factory without knowing” that his head was bleeding, Riel Sovantuon said in the statement.
Vinstar factory Administrative Director Lim Chea said Thursday that Riel Sovantuon stopped working at the factory shortly after the fight occurred.