Cambodia’s Supreme Court on Friday upheld a low court’s decision to sentence three environmental activists over their involvement in a 2015 anti-sand dredging campaign in Koh Kong province.
San Mala, an activist with the banned NGO Mother Nature, which the jailed activists worked for, said the activists were not satisfied with the court’s decision to keep them imprisoned, nor the $25,000 compensation settlement they are being made to pay to the Direct Access company, which lodged the complaint.
“We saw with our own eyes that the company, which used to do sand dredging business, did not prove transparent and we found corrupt acts with their business, but it was never held accountable before the law,” he said.
San Mala, Try Sovikear, and Sim Samnang were sentenced to 18 months in jail after they organized a protest against the company in April 2015. They were arrested in August of the same year and accused of causing damage and threatening company staff, charges they have consistently denied.
The trio was released in July last year having already served 10 months of pre-trial detention.
Uk Kimseth, Supreme Court spokesman, said the verdict marked an end to the long-running legal battle.
“The Supreme Court ruled to uphold [their conviction], so it's a judgment of the court, and I cannot to comment further,” he said.
Soeung Senkura, a spokesman for local rights group Adhoc, said he regretted the decision, saying that activists would be unable to pay such a large fine.
“How can they, social activists, afford to pay off this money to the plaintiff?” he asked.
Licadho, a local rights group, issued a statement on Friday, noting that failure to pay such a fine can result in more jail time for the accused.