By Mario
Published: Thursday 15 July 1999

Cambodian women walking throug (Credit: BASEL AC NETWORK) A Cambodian court convicted two Taiwan men in absentia over the dumping of about 3,000 tonnes of mercury-tainted waste last year. The court in the southern port city of Sihanoukville sentenced Chang Ku Fung and Kao Chee Song to five years in jail and ordered them to pay more than us $480,000 in compensation. The pair had represented Taiwan's Jade Fortune International Ltd, which was hired by petrochemical giant Formosa Plastics Corp to export the waste from Taiwan late last year. The pair were alleged to have left Cambodia in December, soon after the waste was discovered near Sihanoukville. The discovery caused panic as thousands fled the city fearing contamination and sparked two days of violent protests. One person was killed.

The waste, described in shipping documents as "cement cake", was imported in November. The Cambodian government denounced the dumping and Formosa removed it from the country in March. "They (the two men) are really responsible. They falsified documents for the purpose of bringing the mercury-tainted waste into Cambodia," prosecutor Mourn Mith told the Municipal Court. Also convicted in absentia was the men's Cambodian translator, Phan Pheui, who also received five years in jail. The director of the Cambodian firm that imported the waste, Sam Moeun, was sentenced to seven months in jail for endangering lives and property and conspiring to import hazardous waste. Six months of the sentence were suspended because he has been held in detention since December, court officials said.

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