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Cambodian Rights Groups Call for Release of Men Convicted of Killing Union Leader

Human rights activists in Cambodia are calling for the release of two men they say were wrongfully convicted of killing a prominent union leader.

Dozens of activists and family members of the convicted men gathered at a police station in Phnom Penh today (Tuesday), to mark the first anniversary of the men's trial.

They say Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were unjustly convicted of killing unionist Chea Vichea in January 2004, and that the real killers remain at large.

Amnesty International is also calling on the Cambodian government to reopen the case and launch an independent investigation into the murder.

Riot police chased the activists away from the police station. The group moved to a Buddhist pagoda and released caged birds to symbolize their demands for the men's freedom.

Chea Vichea founded the Free Trade Union of Cambodia, a popular workers' group that spearheaded vast labor reforms in the country's garment factory industry. The unionist was a close alley of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, and local human rights groups say his murder was politically motivated.