PHNOM PENH —
The Koh Kong Provincial Court on Monday began a trial of three environmental activists of local NGO Mother Nature for opposing sand dredging activities in the Southwestern province, according to human rights activists.
The Mother Nature activists – Sun Mala, Try Sovikea, and Sim Samnang – were charged by the court with intimidation and causing damage during the campaign to curb sand dredging in Koh Kong, and were jailed in August 2015.
In Kongchet, provincial representative of local rights group Licadho, told VOA on Monday that the court began the trial by questioning the three activists, Koh Kong officials, representatives of dredging firm Direct Access, and representatives of the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
He added that the court continued question 16 witnesses into Monday evening and civil society observers had not been allowed to observe the proceedings.
“We see that the process was made in a mysterious way, and we hope that justice would be found for these three accused people,” he said.
Kongchet also said that about 90 people from communities that suffered from land rights violations came to demonstrate in solidarity with the activists outside the court.
Iv Tray, deputy prosecutor of the Koh Kong provincial court could not be reached for comment.
The trial is set to resume on Tuesday morning.