Workers Honor Slain Union Leader on Anniversary

Tears, cheers and calls for justice marked the fifth anniversary of the killing of former Free Trade Union President Chea Vichea Thursday, as hundreds of garment workers, supporters and government officials marched in Phnom Penh.

“We cannot forget all the great things Chea Vichea did as a hero to garment workers,” Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha told the crowd through a megaphone. “We will continue to search for real justice for [Chea Vichea], and we will not stop…until we have found it,” he said.

About 400 garment workers, activists and politicians marched from FTU headquarters to the newsstands outside Wat Lanka, where on Jan 22, 2004, Chea Vichea was gunned down in broad daylight.

Born Samnang, one of the two men convicted of the killing of Chea Vichea and recently granted bail by the Supreme Court after spending five years in prison for the crime, was in attendance Thursday with his mother. The other recently released man, Sok Sam Oeun, was represented by his parents, who said he could not attend because he was ill.

Many in the crowd were moved to tears during a series of speeches by Kem Sokha, SRP President Sam Rainsy and Chea Mony, the brother of the slain leader, who has replaced him as FTU president.

“We want to see the government arrest the real killers who shot my brother dead, as well as other reporters or politicians that have been killed,” Chea Mony told the crowd. Many believe that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun did not kill Chea Vichea.

When the Supreme Court ord­ered the temporary release of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun on Dec 31, it also ordered that the case be sent back to the Appeal Court and reinvestigated. But three weeks later, that process had not yet begun, court officials said Thursday.

You Bunleng, president of the Appeal Court, said the Supreme Court had not yet sent documents ordering the investigation to resume, adding that the court could not act until the documents had been received.

“I will further investigate this case again if the Supreme Court orders the Appeal Court to do so,” You Bunleng said by telephone.

Officials at the Supreme Court could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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