Monday, August 01, 2005

A Cambodian court sentenced two men to 20 years in jail each

(Kyodo) _ A Cambodian court sentenced two men to 20 years in jail each on Monday for murdering a labor leader last year.

Kong Seth, chief of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, meted out the ruling to Born Samnang, 23, and his accomplice Sok Sam Oeun, 36, for killing Chea Vichea, the 40-year-old head of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and for possessing arms illegally.

Chea Vichea, also a well-known activist for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle in January last year as he was reading a newspaper at a kiosk in central Phnom Penh.

After the ruling, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun cried for help from former King Norodom Sihanouk and current King Norodom Sihamoni, saying they had committed no crimes.

Chea Mony, younger brother of the late union worker, also urged the government to release the two men, saying they were not the real murderers, but only used as scapegoats by the government to "show its commitment to punish culprits."

Opposition politicians have said Chea Vichea's assassination was conducted out of political motivation.

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