Svay Rieng Unionists Appeal Convictions for Protest

A lawyer for four unionists who were handed suspended 18-month prison sentences for blocking a road last year filed an appeal with the Svay Rieng Provincial Court on Wednesday.

Toun Saren, Chea Oudom, Cham Samnang and Suth Chet, of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, were charged with incitement and fined $750 each following a protest at the You Li garment factory in Bavet City in August 2014.

Phan Ratana, a deputy prosecutor at the provincial court, said last month that the actions of the unionists—blocking National Road 1 for about an hour—were as serious as those of former Bavet governor Chhouk Bundith, who shot and wounded three workers during a strike in 2012.

But the lawyer for the four unionists, Sary Buthchakrya, said he did not agree.

“We filed an appeal because we are not happy with the court’s decision,” he said Wednesday.

Contacted for a response, Mr. Ratana said the four should consider themselves lucky to be free.

“We have decided to tolerate them and suspend their sentences, even though their crime is very serious,” he said.

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