Briefs: Lawyer Says CNRP Mass Trial Set for Conclusion, Electric Shocks Alleged by Malaysian Forced-Labor Victims

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The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on August 18, 2021 (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)
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Cross-examinations are complete in one of the country’s mass opposition trials, which is now set for closing arguments in early May, a defense lawyer said.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court held a trial hearing Tuesday morning in which five defendants who were present gave final remarks, said lawyer Choung Chou Ngy.

The defendants who spoke on Tuesday were Seng Chan Theary, Yok Neang, Kak Komphear, Heng Chan Sothy and Tum Bunthorn, he said. The case relates to the failed return attempt of CNRP co-founder Sam Rainsy in 2019, and an alleged plan to gather supporters both in the country and overseas to accompany him.

Chou Ngy said the next hearing was scheduled for May 3, and it should see the case’s closing arguments.

“They will make their conclusions: The prosecutor will make the indictment and the defense will make our own statement to defend our clients,” Chou Ngy said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Y Rin could not be reached on Tuesday.

The trial, one of several against opposition supporters, has been ongoing since 2020.

— Seng Thai

Malaysian Victims Allege Electric Shocks

Twelve Malaysian nationals were repatriated from Cambodia after being entrapped in forced-labor compounds and beaten and abused with electric shocks, according to media reports.

Channel News Asia, a Singaporean broadcaster, cited the victims’ lawyer Heng Zhi Li as saying 16 total victims had left for Cambodia between September and February after being promised jobs paying $1,650 a month.

They had been reaching out for rescue since January after being entrapped, beaten and abused with electric shocks, CNA said. Twelve of the 16 were brought back to Malaysia on Tuesday morning.

The Malaysian rescues follow months of similar reports involving foreign nationals in Cambodia. Rescued victims have spoken of thousands of others trapped in slave compounds across Cambodia.

Thai officials recently visited Cambodia seeking to extract as many as 3,000 Thai nationals from scam operations, but could only rescue 66, saying bosses seemed to have been tipped off about their raids.

One of the primary rescuers of Chinese victims has been imprisoned after Cambodian authorities denied the alleged account of a “blood slave” in Sihanoukville having blood harvested after refusing to work. Authorities said the rescuers and others had helped the victim fabricate the story and harmed Cambodia’s reputation.

— Michael Dickison

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