Unions to Protest Court Ruling in Triple Shooting

Union leaders are planning a demonstration in January to protest the Svay Rieng Provincial Court’s decision last week to drop charges against the former Bavet City governor, Chhouk Bundith, who was the chief suspect in the shooting of three garment factory workers during a violent strike earlier this year.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said a meeting will be held in the first week of January to plan the protest against the court’s decision, which he called “an injustice” to the three injured workers.

“We cannot allow the suspect who is a city governor to go free after he shoots whoever he wants,” Mr. Mony said on Friday.

“We don’t want this same case to continue to occur in our society. It is 100 percent sure that we will protest against Chhouk Bundith in the beginning of 2013.”

The FTU will have the support of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU), CCAWDU president Ath Thorn said.

“All unions and communities that protest against Chhouk Bundith, we will support them,” Mr. Thorn said.

“The action of the Svay Rieng Provincial Court has made the people lose their trust in the court system,” he added.

During the February 20 protest at a special economic zone in Bavet, witnesses said that Mr. Bundith, then-governor of Bavet City, opened fire and hit three female factory workers.

Named early on as the only suspect in the triple shooting, the provincial court first charged Mr. Bundith with the relatively minor crime of causing unintentional injuries, then last week dropped all charges. The court has also charged a police official, Sar Chantha, for causing unintentional injury for his role in the triple shooting. Mr. Chantha denies the charge.

New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Saturday calling for an independent investigation of the shooting.

“For too long, prosecutors and judges have been used as an instrument for protecting those enjoying the patronage of powerful Cambodian authorities,” Brad Adams, the organization’s Asia director, said in the statement. “The international community should use the Chhouk Bundith case to end its passive acceptance of travesties of justice.”

Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said the unions were using the triple shooting as an excuse to protest.

“We have to rely on the court’s decision. If every individual takes the law in their hands and do whatever they want, it’s what we call anarchy, and there is no more rule of law.”

(Additional reporting by Dene-Hern Chen)

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