PHNOM PENH —
Demonstrators and police clashed outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court building on Friday, where 23 labor activists were brought for trial following their arrests in January.
The activists were brought into the court in handcuffs, then split into three rooms, where they faced judges on charges related to incitement of violence in the January protests.
Authorities have detained 21 of the activists since their arrests. Two others, released on bail earlier this year, were also brought to trial on Friday.
Supporters say the 23 activists are being prosecuted as a deterrent against further labor demonstrations.
Some 100 supporters clashed with an equal number of riot police outside the court, where a number of protesters were injured.
Protester Kek Chanreaksmey told VOA Khmer she was kicked and beaten by police, but she stood by the labor activists. “We only want the court to find justice for the 23 union workers,” she said. “We are not against the government.”
Outside the courthouse, Von Pov, one of the accused, addressed reporters.
“We did everything for the Khmer people,” he said. “Von Pov is innocent.”
The hearings are scheduled to resume May 5.