Cambodia's appeals court today upheld two men's 20-year sentences for the murder of a top trade union official.
But an alliance of activists and rights groups said that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were not responsible for the 2004 killing of Free Trade Union (FTU) leader Chea Vichea.
They said the judges had chosen to "systematically dismiss and ignore evidence and testimony in favour of the two."
The group claimed that both men had credible alibis and the only witness had said that they were not the killers.
"This morning's verdict left us speechless," said Moeun Tola of the Cambodia Legal Education Centre. "The decision defies the rule of law."
Violence against trade union leaders is common in Cambodia and activists claim that the men are scapegoats used to ensure that those responsible go unpunished.
As Cambodia's £2.6 billion garment industry grows, trade unions are becoming increasingly active, holding protests and strikes over pay and working conditions.
Rights groups were incensed last week when a local politician connected with the ruling party was cleared of firing into a crowd of striking factory workers earlier this year, wounding three women.
Current FTU president Chea Mony, brother of the late Chea Vichea, said he was shocked by today's ruling and criticised the authorities for failing to bring the real culprits to justice.
"We have not seen any light of justice at all in this case."
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