Cambodian court frees women protestors

13 female protestors have been freed from jail in Cambodia

A court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, has ordered the release of 13 women who were sentenced to two and a half years in prison for protesting their eviction from their homes.

The women had lived in in Phnom Penh’s Boueng Kak lake area, which was awarded to a Chinese company for commercial development, including luxury housing, by the Cambodian government.

But the residents complained that they did not receive adequate compensation. They were arrested in 2010 when they tried to rebuild their homes on land where their old houses had stood.

While the appeal was taking place on Wednesday there was a clash outside the court between police and around 200 human rights activists who were showing their support for the women. At least 12 people were hurt.

Judge Seng Sivutha upheld the convictions of the women for aggravated rebellion and illegal occupation of land, but reduced their sentences to time served of one month and three days and freed them because he said they had children to take care of.

However Amnesty International said the appeals court ‘should have overturned the women’s convictions, not simply suspended the remainder of their sentences and allowed the convictions to stand.’

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