Von Pov told the court Wednesday he had joined demonstrations to call for a raise in the minimum wage, to $160 per month, but not to directly attack the Yak Ching factory, as alleged.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court reopened a hearing against 23 labor activists, including questioning of union leader Von Pov, who was injured during a brutal crackdown on protests in January.
Human Rights Watch said such crackdowns benefit from the training Cambodian forces receive from the US—training that is supposed to be humanitarian in nature.
The trial of the 23 activists have been heavily criticized by rights groups, who say they are being tried to discourage further demonstrations.
Among them was a Burmese woman who spent seven years in prison, as well as Cambodian land activist Tep Vanny, an outspoken community leader who has also been jailed.
Vann Sophath says he was threatened by security guards of the Khun Sea company, which belongs to in-laws of the prime minister.
About 50 Cambodian youths were prevented by city security personnel from performing a peace march in the capital on Tuesday.
The villagers say a Vietnamese rubber company began developing in the area in 2008, ultimately evicting some 400 families from their homes across more than 2,000 hectares of land.
Outside the court Friday, supporters for the 21 detainees gathered, condemning the court’s decision.
People can use social media, such as Facebook, in Vietnam, but some have been arrested for things they’ve posted, experts say.
The new study found that 770,000 people, or 6 percent of the population, have in some way been affected by land disputes since 2000.
Human rights workers on Wednesday condemned the court’s treatment of 23 labor activists, who were detained in January and are now seeing continued delays in their trials.