Cambodia jails union leader for two years for ‘incitement’

A Cambodian court has jailed prominent union leader Rong Chhun for two years – the maximum sentence – after finding him guilty of “incitement” over remarks he made about the Vietnam-Cambodia border last year.

Judge Li Sokha announced the decision during a brief hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday that was attended by some international diplomats.

Activists Sar Kanika and Ton Mimol, who were also accused of incitement, were also found guilty and jailed for 20 months each.

The three, who have been in custody since their arrest a year ago, were also ordered to jointly pay $100,000 to the government’s border committee.

“It’s so disappointing. This is a serious punishment, and the verdict did not render justice to my three clients,” said lawyer Sam Sokong, who added that Rong Chhun planned to appeal the ruling.

Rong Chhun was arrested on July 31 last year after accusing the government of “irregularities” in the demarcation of its eastern border with Vietnam, and some villagers had lost land as a result. The border is a sensitive issue fuelled by strong anti-Vietnamese feelings among some Cambodians.

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