Cambodia: Governor Arrested As Shooting Suspect??

The governor of a city in southeastern Cambodia was arrested Friday in connection with a shooting that left three workers hospitalized as they took part in protests for better labor conditions at a sportswear factory that supplies goods to German sportswear giant PUMA.

Chhouk Bandit (DAP)

Chhouk Bandit (DAP)

But in response to news media report indicating that Chhouk Bandit, the mayor of Bavet city was arrested, Chieng Am, the Svay Rieng provincial governor, confirmed over the phone that, as of 03 March 2012, there was no arrest made against the CPP Bandit yet.

Cambodian Justice.

Fourteen days have passed since the women were shot in broad daylight in front of police at a protest by about 6,000 people.

Bavet police and provincial officials have repeatedly said they do not know where Chhouk Bandith is and rejected claims from rights groups that he had been apprehended at the border on Friday, arrested and taken to Ministry of Interior officials.

But a Bavet town police officer who declined to be named alleged yesterday that after Chhouk Bandith shot the protesters, he escaped and drove to Kampong Cham before moving on to Phnom Penh, where he was staying with one of Cambodia’s deputy prime ministers.



Protest shooting.

The shooting incident took place on Feb. 20 outside the premises of the Kaoway Sports Ltd. factory, located in the Manhattan Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Bavet city, leaving three female workers injured, one critically. The three female employees, aged 18 to 23, were all treated at a nearby hospital for upper body wounds.

An unidentified gunman dressed as a bodyguard opened fire on nearly 1,000 workers from three different factories who had been protesting for better working conditions, but escaped from the scene despite a heavy police presence.

Sportswear Giant PUMA.

Sportswear giant PUMA, which is one of the factory’s main purchasers, pledged to investigate and sent an official to accompany Moeun Tola to discuss the event with one of the injured workers.

The company also said it would host meetings with government and nongovernmental organizations as well as trade unions to discuss workers’ grievances in order to ensure their safety and well-being.

Kaoway officials said workers had thrown rocks at the factory and set fire to various parts of the building in an act of vandalism and plunder. It made no mention of who was responsible for the shooting or why the gunman shot at protesters.

Protesting for wage raises.

Local rights groups said protesters had been demanding that management of the zone’s three factories raise their monthly wages by U.S. $10 per month to U.S. $71.

A least five violent incidents in the last few months in Cambodia.

According to rights groups, there have been at least five incidents of armed guards, including police and military police officers, firing at villagers in land disputes in five separate provinces over the last few months.

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