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Environmentalists Flee Cambodia Fearing Safety Ahead of Trial


The three activists and their families stand in front of a prison in Koh Kong province on July 1, 2016. (Photo provided by Licadho)

They were sentenced to serve 18 months in prison in July but were released on suspended sentences after serving more than 10 months in pre-trial detention.

Three activists working for local environmental pressure group Mother Nature have fled Cambodia fearing for their safety ahead of a trial in a local court scheduled to start at the end of the month.

The Court of Appeals is due to open proceedings against the three activists - Sun Mala, Try Sovikea and Sim Samnang - on January 31 for alleged criminal damage and intimidation during an anti-sand dredging action in Koh Kong province.

They were sentenced to serve 18 months in prison in July but were released on suspended sentences after serving more than 10 months in pre-trial detention.

“Now, I have arrived in a safe place, but I cannot inform you which country I am staying in,” Mala said.

The activists were also ordered to pay about $25,000 in compensation to the Vietnamese sand dredging company they targeted, Direct Access.

Touch Tharith, Appeals Court spokesman, could not be reached for comment.

Sam Sokunthea, the activists’ lawyer, declined to comment of the activists’ departure.

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