Hiding in plain sight

June 26, 2013

Ah, justice in Cambodia, why are you so elusive?

I wrote last year about Chhouk Bandith, the former governor of Bavet town in southeast Cambodia, who had not been convicted of shooting three garment workers who were protesting about their working conditions. Witnesses saw him deliberately fire into a crowd, hitting the three women, before driving away.

In December the charges against him were dropped, but there was a huge outcry, and the appeals court reinstated them. And yesterday he was convicted of “unintentional wounding” and sentenced to 18 months in prison. He was also fined $9,500, to be distributed among the three women. However, he hasn’t paid the fine; nor is he serving his sentence. Because he’s run away, and hasn’t been seen for months.

I mean, where do you start? “Unintentional wounding”? Driving up to a crowd, pulling out a gun and firing it sounds fairly intentional to me. And 18 months? Yorm Bopha got three years for inciting violence, and she’s innocent. It’s enough to drive you mad if you think about it too much.

In other news, scientists have just discovered a new species of bird in Cambodia. Living in central Phnom Penh.

With a distinctive orange-red coloured tuft of feathers on its head, the remarkable discovery of the Cambodian tailorbird, or orthotomus chaktomuk, has astounded conservationists.

The Cambodian tailorbird

The Cambodian tailorbird


“The modern discovery of an undescribed bird species within the limits of a large populous city … is extraordinary,” Simon Mahood of the Wildlife Conversation Society told AFP. “It’s very surprising,” he added.

I have to say that I’ve never seen one. But I’ll be looking out for them.

But not for the next couple of weeks, as I’m going back to the UK for a spell. So I apologise if things get a bit quiet here. But, unlike Chhouk Bandith, I promise I’ll be back.




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