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Witnesses Describe 2012 Shooting at Svay Rieng Factory Demonstration

An unidentified garment worker lying on a hospital bed with multiple gunshot wounds to her back, file photo.
PHNOM PENH - Svay Rieng provincial court entered a second day of hearings against a former city governor accused of firing into a demonstration of factory workers last year.

Chhouk Bandith, former governor of Bavet city, did not appear in court, but is accused of injuring three women after shooting into a crowded protest.

A majority of 20 witnesses told the court Thursday he was the only person shooting. A few witnesses said shots may have been fired by a nearby policeman.

Chhouk Bandith was removed from his post as governor following the incident, but rights workers say he has powerful political connections that have kept him out of jail. The local provincial court reopened the case following a decision by the Appeals Court in Phnom Penh earlier this year.

Am Sam Ath, monitoring supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said that after two days of hearings, he was convinced it was Chhouk Bandith who opened fire on the workers.

Three women were injured in the shooting. One of them, Keo Near, 19, was present at the court on Thursday. She said she believed it was Chhouk Bandith who shot her. “I believe the court will find justice,” she said.