Garment Industry / Human Rights / Union

Ailing Vorn Pao Denied Bail for the Fourth Time

by Mech Dara / Cambodia Daily

Labor leader Vorn Pao was denied bail for the fourth time on Friday, meaning that he and 20 other protesters will remain in a remote Kompong Cham province prison until trial on April 18 for participating in January’s garment factory strikes.

It was the second time he was denied bail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Last week, the Court of Appeal also denied his bail request, even though Mr. Pao is suffering from health problems.

yorm-vornpao

Boeng Kak activist Yorm Bopha is blocked by police as she screams in support of detained labor activists Vorn Pao and Sokun Sombath Piseth outside their bail hearing in Phnom Penh on Friday. (Siv Channa)

Mr. Pao, who is president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association, was not present at court Friday. Neither was Sokun Sombath Piseth, a member of the Center for Labor Rights of Cambodia, who was also seeking bail because of injuries sustained when he and Mr. Pao were clubbed and arrested by state forces during the strikes three months ago in Phnom Penh.

Mr. Pao has kidney problems. Mr. Sombath Piseth has a broken hand.

“It is injustice for my son,” said Mr. Piseth’s 53-year-old mother, Pan Sina. “My son has broken his arm, but the director of the Correctional Center said it is not big deal.”

“They did not allow my son to be bailed to get treatment in Thailand, and we have lost hope,” she continued. “We have sufficient evidence to prove that he needs the treatment but the court still denied it.”

Kim Socheat, one of Mr. Pao’s two lawyers, said the prosecutor argued that there was insufficient evidence to show that Mr. Pao suffers from ill health, and that “he could cause chaos in society” if released before trial.

Mr. Pao’s wife, Prak Sovannary, said the decision shows that courts operate under the thumb of the government. “It is an injustice for my husband since he has problems with his kidneys,” she added.

But Kea Sovanna, director of the prison, said the men are in good health.

“We have our doctors and provincial and NGO doctors to provide treatment for them and they can do activities like other people,” he said.

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