Trials for 23 Cambodian labor activists adjourned to May 6

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-4-25 19:16:49

The trials of the 23 labor activists and garment workers, who were arrested during January violent protests, were adjourned to May 6 after a five-hour hearing on Friday.

"The court decides to adjourn the trials to May 6 in order to give more time to the defendants to recall the activities they had committed during those clashes," Phnom Penh Municipal Court's Judge Suos Sam Ath said. "The adjournment is also to give more time to the court to further look into the case."

The 23 detainees, who are accused of intentionally causing violence and destroying property, were brought to courtrooms under tight security on Friday morning as hundreds of union activists and relatives gathered outside the court to demand the detainees' release.

Government critic Von Pov, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy, is among the detainees.

The trials have been divided into four cases, corresponding to locations where they were apprehended: two in the Canadia Industrial Park, one at the Stung Meanchey bridge, and one at the Yak Jing garment factory.

The detainees were arrested during clashes between police and protesters early January in Phnom Penh when they staged violent protests to demand a higher minimum wage of 160 US dollars for the garment sector.

The clashes at that time left four people dead and dozens injured, and cost garment factories millions of US dollars.

According to Cambodian law, the 23 detainees could face up to five years in jail on those charges.

Dispute on minimum wages for garment workers remain hot in this Southeast Asian nation since eight pro-opposition trade unions, which represent more than 100,000 workers, are still jointly demanding the government to increase the minimum wages to 160 US dollars a month, but the government said the demand is too high to afford.

The current minimum wage is 100 US dollars a month.

The garment and footwear industry, the kingdom's largest foreign exchange earner, comprises 960 factories with some 620,000 workers. The sector earned 5.5 billion US dollars from exports last year.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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