A Cambodian court has acquitted former Victorian politician Hong Lim of incitement but 14 others have been found guilty and sentenced to between 20 months and two years after calling for a jailed trade unionist to be freed.
Lim, a frequent critic of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, was charged and tried in absentia last year amid a crackdown on supporters of the banned opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), which has resulted in more than 100 arrests.
The former Member for Clarinda in the Victorian Legislative Assembly faced up to 10 years behind bars in his native country if convicted.
"I'm the only one they dropped the charges against," he told AAP from Melbourne after Tuesday's ruling.
"I'm relieved but I don't know how the others, all young people, will cope. They will be released next month but they have been in jail for more than a year."
Lim was banned from entering Cambodia in 2016 after he criticised Hun Sen in the wake of the murder of Kem Ley, a close friend and prominent broadcaster who was shot dead in broad daylight while drinking coffee at a Phnom Penh petrol station.
A charge sheet from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court detailed the sentences with four CNRP activists, also charged in absentia, sentenced to two years behind bars.
"I'm glad it's over," Lim added. "It's a positive move on their part," he said in regards to Hun Sen and the Cambodian government.
The remaining 10, all living in Cambodia, were jailed for 20 months but will be released on a two-year probation period and fined with a sentence reduction for time already served.
A report from Voice of Democracy (VOD) said they were banned from contacting CNRP officials who instigated protests in August last year in support of trade unionist Rong Chhun and would have to report to the prosecutor if they changed their address, job or wanted to go abroad.
Rong Chhun, a human rights activist and President of the independent Cambodian Confederation of Unions, was detained in July last year for inciting social unrest after he made sensitive comments in regard to Cambodia's border with Vietnam.
Two months ago he was jailed for two years.
Rong Chhun also served on the CNRP national election committee, which was dissolved by the courts in 2017. Hun Sen's ruling CPP then won every seat contested at general elections in 2018 when Cambodia re-emerged as a one-party state.
Many CNRP activists have since fled abroad.
Australian Associated Press