Phnom Penh. A former governor of the Cambodian town Bavet shot into a crowd of demonstrating workers until his gun stuck and then fled, a policeman told a provincial court Thursday.

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NachrichtenagenturThe workers had been demonstrating about labour conditions at a textile plant in the town of Bavet, in south-eastern Cambodia. Chhouk Bandith, who was removed from the town governor position after the incident, is facing charges for shooting three workers.

The three women shot were not protesting, but on their way to work. They all survived.

“Bandith was shooting at workers until his gun got stuck, and then fled away,” policeman Long Phorn said in Svay Rieng Provincial Court on Thursday. Six other witnesses said the well-connected politician carried a gun on February 20, 2012, the day of the incident.

The demonstrating workers are employees at Kaoway Sports, a supplier to Puma. At the time of the shooting, they were staging a peaceful demonstration for better working conditions, including a minimum living wage of 61 dollars a month and lunch allowance.

The case has been tossed between courts and faced many delays. Bandith and his lawyer – who left on Wednesday after an apparent technical error that put him on the witness list – were absent during Wednesday’s and Thursday’s sessions.

“This case must be transferred to Phnom Penh, as Svay Rieng court has shown they can’t handle the case,” said Virak Ou, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

Tola Moeun, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Center, said the verdict will be on Friday. “Based on the testimonies he should be prosecuted.”

Author | Sarah Thust

Last Update | 25.06.2013

Licensed | dpa – German news agency

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