Ven Vorn Appeal Set for Friday

Source: Khmer TimeKH | Wednesday, 07 September 2016, by Peach Sotheary

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Mr. Vorn says he cut trees to get timber to make a community center. Supplied

Areng Valley community representative Ven Vorn’s appeal against his March conviction for “collecting forest products without permission” will start on Friday, court officials said yesterday.

According to a summons from the Appeal Court, signed by judge Kim Danny, Mr. Vorn – a Cambodian People’s Party councilor for Chumnorb commune – has been summoned to appear before the court on Friday.

Mr. Vorn, who is associated with environmental NGO Mother Nature and has campaigned to protect the Areng Valley, received a one-year suspended sentenced by the Koh Kong Provincial Court, but vowed at the time to appeal.

The court found him guilty of felling trees to be used for a community building, but Mr. Vorn told reporters after he was convicted that as a member of the Chong minority group, the felling of trees for community use is legal. Yesterday he told Khmer Times why he had appealed.

“I filed the appeal because the provincial court decided to imprison me for one year when I did not illegally log as they accused. I bought those trees from other people to build the community center and did not take the wood for trafficking.”

Koh Kong provincial Licadho coordinator In Kongchit said he felt the charges against Mr. Vorn were linked to his involvement with Mother Nature, a number of whose members have been imprisoned for their environmental advocacy.

One of Mother Nature’s founders, Spaniard Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, was effectively deported last year and has been denied re-entry to attend his own trial relating to the NGO’s activities associated with sand dredging in Koh Kong province.

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