PHNOM PENH —
Five women arrested and charged for protests over their removal from a Phnom Penh neighborhood appeared before the Supreme Court on Friday, appealing their case and asking to be released.
The ten women are accused of illegally taking over public property and resisting public officials during protests in May 2012.
The women were protesting their ouster from the Boeung Kak neighborhood, much of which was leveled to make room for a development project in 2008. Under questioning, the five defendants denied wrongdoing.
Wearing a black T-shirt that said “Hunger for justice,” defendant Chan Navy, 62, tearfully told the court Friday she had seen her home destroyed and now had no house to live in. “If you don’t believe me, just go see for yourself,” she said. “I am this poor.”
Supporters say the women committed no crimes and that their arrests are aimed at stifling further government dissent.
Activist leader Tep Vanny told reporters after the hearing that she hoped the Supreme Court would release the women, “even though we’ve never had justice from the judicial system in Cambodia.”
A verdict is expected March 16.