In Cambodia, a rare acquittal in a climate of danger for green activists

In a rare ruling, a court in Cambodia has decided to acquit a Spanish environmental activist charged with incitement, the state’s default accusation against most forms of protest.

Alejandro-Gonzalez Davidson, the founder of the NGO Mother Nature Cambodia (MNC), stood accused of acting as an accomplice to three Cambodian activists who were arrested for protesting sand-dredging in the coastal province of Koh Kong. The four were charged with incitement and threatening to destroy private property, but in its ruling on Aug. 22, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Gonzalez-Davidson not guilty.

“We are still waiting to see if the prosecutor appealed the decision,” he said in a text message from Spain, adding that the “circus” might not be over.

Gonzalez-Davidson’s Cambodian colleagues were convicted on related charges in 2016 and sentenced to 18 months in prison. The final 10 months of their sentences were suspended and all three have since been released, but still face large fines.

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Andrew Nachemson