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Court Dismisses Charges Against Unionist Over Alleged Funeral Fund Embezzlement


Moeun Tola, executive director of the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), waved to reporters as he enters the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Cambodia, May 25, 2018. (Hul Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)

Some 30 local and international civil society groups had previously called for the court to drop the charges, saying the proceedings were politically motivated.

A Phnom Penh court has dropped all charges against Moeun Tola, a prominent union and civil society leader, who was accused of embezzling money from the fund for the funeral of slain political commentator Kem Ley in 2016.

Tola, the executive director of the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (Central), appeared in court in June for questioning after Pich Sros, president of the Cambodian Youth Party, claimed he had stolen $300,000 of donations collected for the Ley’s funeral.

Investigating Judge Y Thavarak concluded that there was no evidence to support Sros’ claim. Ly Sophanna, a court spokesman, confirmed the case had been dropped.

Some 30 local and international civil society groups had previously called for the court to drop the charges, saying the proceedings were politically motivated.

Khun Tharo, Central’s labor coordinator, said the dismissal of the charges would allow Tola to continue his work for the organization unhindered.

“We welcome the dismissal of charges because it would allow him to implement the plans and vision of Central for the future,” he said.

The decision comes amid a high-profile European Union fact-finding mission to the country. E.U. officials are in Cambodia to determine whether to remove Cambodia from a trading scheme that allows Cambodian goods preferential access to European markets.

Tola said he was not considering filing any legal proceedings against Sros.

“However, although we have different opinions, meaning Pich Sros has another political tendency and he is a political party leader, we are still Khmer. I think I should set a model for Khmer society, loving each other and uniting each other for our nation,” he said.

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