Six Cambodian opposition politicians charged with insurrection

Cambodian security guards clash with demonstrators protesting for Freedom Park to open in Phnom Penh on July 15, 2014. A Cambodian court Wednesday, July 16, 2014, charged six opposition politicians with leading an insurrection during a protest t
Cambodian security guards clash with demonstrators protesting for Freedom Park to open in Phnom Penh on July 15, 2014. A Cambodian court Wednesday, July 16, 2014, charged six opposition politicians with leading an insurrection during a protest that left scores injured, a lawyer said, a charge that could carry up to 30 years in jail. -- PHOTO: AFP

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - A Cambodian court Wednesday charged six opposition politicians with leading an insurrection during a protest that left scores injured, a lawyer said, a charge that could carry up to 30 years in jail.

Mu Sochua, a prominent voice of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, her assistant and four other MPs-elect were arrested after clashes Tuesday at a demonstration against the closure of Phnom Penh's main designated protest site.

They were charged with leading an insurrection movement, masterminding intentional violence and inciting criminal acts, Mr Ket Khy, a lawyer for Mu Sochua, told reporters.

The insurrection charge alone carries a prison sentence of between 20 and 30 years.

"This is a setback for democracy in Cambodia," Mr Am Sam Ath of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights told AFP.

He said all six were placed in pre-trial detention.

The MPs-elect, who have boycotted parliament since a disputed general election last year, were brought to Phnom Penh Municipal Court in handcuffs, according to witnesses.

Around 300 opposition supporters protested on Tuesday outside Phnom Penh's "Freedom Park", which has been closed since a bloody crackdown on striking garment workers in January.

Clashes between security guards and protesters left nearly 40 guards injured, with three of them being treated in an intensive care unit, the government said in a statement.

Rights activists said some opposition supporters were also wounded during the protest, where police fired tear gas to stop the guards and protesters fighting with sticks and stones.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen faces mounting criticism by rights groups over the suppression of street protests intended to challenge his nearly three-decade rule following the contested election last year.