Supreme Court hears appeal from activists

source: Phnom Penh Post

Sand-dredging ships and barges anchor along a section of Koh Kong’s Andoung Tuek River in 2014. mother nature

The lawyer representing three Mother Nature activists and an official from the NGO Adhoc asked the Supreme Court on Monday to drop the charges against them.

Sim Samnang, San Mala and Try Sovikea, all activists with the environmental organisation, were sentenced in 2016 to 18 months in prison and fined a total of $25,500 by the Koh Kong provincial court.

All three were released, however, after serving 10 months, with the remaining eight suspended. They were accused of threatening to destroy a sand dredging company’s equipment. They were arrested after boarding Direct Access dredging vessels in July 2015.

Despite their release, the case reached the Appeal Court where Sam Chamroeun, their lawyer, asked for charges to be dropped.

“We filed a complaint to the Supreme Court to ask them to correct the lower court’s decision by deciding that they are not guilty,” he said.

Soeung Sen Karuna, an official with Adhoc, said the court should drop the charges and the government should encourage such brave youths to protect the environment.

“These three activists worked to protect nature but were ordered to pay such a huge amount of compensation. How can they raise the money?”

“The charge levelled against them is not reasonable because the locals asked them to help protect their interests. They saw dredging that was more than what was stated in the authorised licence,” Sen Karuna said.

“The government should motivate them because these youths are a scarce resource. The case should end.”

The verdict from the Appeal Court is due on July 13.

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