Cambodian police send 2 suspects to court after deadly clash in garment protest

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-11-13 19:51:05

The Phnom Penh Municipal Police on Wednesday sent two suspects to court with the charges of " vandalism and causing injuries on police" in a Tuesday's clash between the police and protesting garment workers, which resulted in the death of a woman and several injuries.

Eang Sophea, chief of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police's Serious Crimes Bureau, said after the three-hour clash on Tuesday, police arrested 31 protesters for inquiries.

"After we questioned them, we found that two are involved in the clash so that we send them to court with the charges of vandalism and fighting back with police," he told reporters on Wednesday. "The two suspects are not garment workers, but opportunists."

The two suspects are a scavenger Meas Non, 15, and a sand- trucking worker Vanni Van, 19, he said. The remaining 29 suspects were free after inquiries.

Police and hundreds of protesting workers at SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd clashed on Tuesday in the capital's Meanchey district when protesters tried to march to Prime Minister Hun Sen's house for help with demand for pay rise and better working conditions, but the police did not allow them to march by blocking the road.

The Ministry of Interior issued a statement on Tuesday evening, saying that the clash left a woman dead, 47 policemen and nine

protesters injured. In addition, two police trucks and two motorcycles had been set on fire.

"The clash was triggered by some opportunists who incited workers to trigger violence," the statement said.

During the clash, strikers threw stones at police as police retaliated by using water cannons and smoke bombs to disperse protesters, said Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police.

However, eyewitnesses said police had fired real bullets on protesters, accidentally killed the woman who sold food on the sidewalk and injured several protesters.

Vong Voleak, the daughter of the dead woman, said that her mother's name was Eng Sokhom, 49, was accidentally hit by a live bullet on her chest while she was standing at her food stall.

"She died shortly after being sent to hospital," she told reporters after the incident.

However, Kheng Tito denied that the police had shot real bullets at protesters, saying it was against the law.

SL Factory workers have been on strike periodically since early August to demand pay rise and better working conditions.

Garment industry is the country's largest income earner, representing more than 80 percent of the country's exports. Last year, the country earned 4.6 billion US dollars from garment exports, according to the report of the Ministry of Commerce.

Currently, the country has about 500 garment and footwear factories employing some 510,600 workers.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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