Two NagaWorld Protesters Questioned in Court, but Crime Still Unclear

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NagaWorld workers stand outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in support of unionists summoned for questioning on November 14, 2022. Their signs say, “I come to be a witness.” (Tran Techseng/VOD)

Two NagaWorld unionists have been questioned in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court over breaking and entering, intentional damage and unlawful confinement — but they still don’t know what the casino company is accusing them of, they said.

Protesters Sok Sothavuth and Net Chakriya appeared at the court for questioning on Monday, Sothavuth in the morning and Chakriya in the afternoon, as around 40 casino protesters stood outside in support.

NagaWorld workers have protested since December over mass layoffs that they say targeted union members and leaders, facing arrest and violence over 10 months of labor action. What began as large rallies outside the Phnom Penh casino have mostly dwindled into small protests of fewer than 100 participants.

Sothavuth said she received her summons last week, and spent around 30 minutes during the morning being questioned by a prosecutor.

She was shown “evidence” of her crime from August 19 and 20: printed-out photographs showing her standing outside the NagaWorld casino building with other protesters.

“There are pictures, but nothing aside from us striking in front of Naga. It’s like a picture of us standing over there every day,” Sothavuth said.

She said the prosecutor had asked her whether she had committed each of the three charges of breaking and entering, intentional damage and illegal confinement on those days.

She had answered she did not, and was asked this repeatedly over half an hour, she said, adding that the court action would not dissuade her from continuing to protest.

“Even though I face this case, I will still keep coming until we can find a solution,” she said, referring to around 200 unionists who are seeking reinstatement from the mass layoffs. She was told she would need to wait to see if NagaCorp continues with its lawsuit, she said.

Ros Bunleng, a manager at NagaWorld, could not be reached on Monday. NagaCorp has not clarified what the court case is about.

Chakriya, who was questioned in the afternoon, said a court clerk and prosecutor questioned her in succession, but neither had presented any photos of her. They simply asked what happened on August 19, she said.

Chakriya said she had replied it was a normal protest: The strikers stood in front of NagaWorld with banners, then went home.

One more protester is set to be questioned tomorrow. At least seven in total have received summonses.

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