Mother Nature activists freed from jail

Two Mother Nature activists were released from prison in Koh Kong on Tuesday (Feb 14) after having completed their five-month jailterm which they alleged as injustice, The Phnom Penh Post Online reported.

Hun Vannak, 35, and Dem Kundy, 21, were found guilty late last month of incitement to commit a felony and making unauthorized recordings of a person in a private place despite only filming ships, not people, from their own boat on the open sea in their effort to expose illegal sand dredging operations.

They were found guilty on one-day trial on January 25 and sentenced to one year in prison with seven months suspended.  The court also fined them one million riel (about $250) each.

The two activists were released on Feb 13 because they have already served nearly four and a half months in prison during the pre-trial and trial period.

The pair said they were still upset with the injustice of their conviction, insisting they did nothing wrong and they planned to appeal their guilty verdict to the Appeals Court before the February 26 deadline.

“Me and Kundy have not done anything wrong, but they still put us in jail,” said Vannak after his release from jail.  “We do not accept the results of the Koh Kong court.”

Kunndy admitted that he broke down a few times in prison for having to live alongside hardened criminals with no privacy in overcrowded cells.

“I cried sometimes. I was not strong enough to stay there, but I had no other choice,” he said.

The pair, however, said they would continue their work to expose other environmental problems in Cambodia.