Trials of 23 Cambodian labor activists adjourned again

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The trials of 23 labor activists and garment workers, who were detained during violent protests four months ago, were adjourned for the second time to May 20 after a 5-hour hearing Tuesday.

"The court adjourned the trials to May 20 because it needs more time to examine documents and evidence," a defense lawyer, Sam Sokong, told reporters after the hearing. "The adjournment is good for both the court and the defendants -- they will have enough time to find additional documents."

The 23 detainees, who are charged with intentionally causing violence and destroying property, were brought to courtrooms Tuesday morning under tight security as dozens of union activists and relatives gathered outside the court to call for the detainees ' release.

Government critic Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy, is among the detainees.

The defendants were apprehended during clashes between anti- riot police and protesters in January when they held violent protests to demand a higher minimum wage of 160 U.S. dollars a month for the garment sector.

The clashes at that time left four people dead and dozens injured, and cost garment factories millions of U.S. dollars.

Under Cambodian laws, the 23 detainees could face up to five years in jail if they are convicted.

Wage dispute in the garment sector remains hot in Cambodia since eight pro-opposition trade unions, which represent about 19 percent of 630,000 garment workers, still demand the government to increase the monthly minimum wage to 160 U.S. dollars from the current 100 U.S. dollars.

The garment and footwear industry, the kingdom's largest foreign exchange earner, generated 5.5 billion U.S. dollars in revenues from exports last year. Endi

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