The former governor of a Cambodian border town where three garment industry workers were shot in February has been charged for his role in the shootings, according to sources in the country.
Chhouk Bandith, who was governor of Bavet city in the southeastern province of Svay Rieng, is the sole suspect in the February 20 shootings, which occurred during a demonstration outside a Svay Rieng factory that produces for Puma, the German sportswear label. Although one of the victims was then in critical condition, she has since been discharged from intensive care.
The handling of the case has received criticism from rights groups because although Bandith had been identified as a suspect within days of the incident, he was only charged on Thursday with “causing harm without intent,” said Mouen Tola, head of the labor program at the Community Legal Education Center, a rights group.
Rights groups had been pushing for him to be tried for premeditated murder. “It is not possible that it was not intentional,” said Tola. “This shows that the judicial system is weak.”
The three victims had earlier claimed that a representative of Bandith had approached them offering more than $1,000 each to drop the case, local media reported. At least one of the victims is seeking compensation of at least $45,000 for medical bills in a criminal complaint. Bandith has since been removed from his position as governor.