NagaWorld Unionist to Remain in Prison as Bail Rejected

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NagaWorld unionist Chhim Sithar leaves Phnom Penh court in a prison vehicle on January 19. (Licadho)

A Phnom Penh court denied bail to prominent union leader Chhim Sithar, who argued in court that she was unaware bail restrictions had prohibited her from traveling overseas.

At least 11 terminated workers from NagaWorld, including Sithar, were arrested and charged with incitement in December 2021 and January 2022 for partaking in protests against the casino corporation. They were given bail last March.

Sithar was arrested again in November when she returned from a labor conference in Australia for allegedly violating her bail conditions, which prohibits her travel overseas.

Judge Soeung Chakriya said she was denying Sithar’s request for bail on Thursday and did not give any legal reasoning for the decision.

During the hourlong hearing, Sithar insisted that she was never given a copy of her bail conditions; all she had was a document from prison police releasing her from prison. Also, she had traveled to Thailand on two occasions in September and October and returned without being arrested.

“I didn’t know about this during the eight months I was outside prison. I have never been informed by authorities or the court to warn about [the conditions for bail],” she said.

“All of us, no one got the court supervision order.” Sithar said, adding that she wanted to go home to take care of her mother and that she herself has a hip injury.

Prosecutor Seng Heang said the prosecution saw no reason to give Sithar bail.

“The prosecution asks the judge to deny the request for bail from defense lawyer Ly Sochetra and asks to continue the detention,” Heang said, naming one of Sithar’s defense lawyers.

Sochetra reiterated that his client never thumbprinted the bail documents and was never made aware of any restrictions placed by the court.

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