The long-time general manager of TTY Company, Un Piseth, was arrested on Saturday on suspicion he ordered gunfire that injured four protesters in Kratie province on January 18.
Deputy provincial prosecutor Hak Hoin said the 47-year-old had been detained after questioning on Saturday over the shootings, in Snuol district’s Veal Bei village.
“We issued a warrant to arrest and detain him in prison while we investigate further, because we feared he would threaten witnesses or run away,” Hak Hoin said.
Un Piseth had denied ordering security guards to fire an AK-47 assault rifle into a crowd of about 400 villagers that had tried to block TTY’s bulldozers from clearing their cassava plantations, Hak Hoin said.
TTY deputy-general Heng Sarath said the company would provide Un Piseth with lawyers because he had been the general manager “for a long time”.
The incident left one man in a serious condition with multiple gunshot wounds. Three others were also hit by bullets.
A photo later emerged of a security guard standing on machinery pointing an assault rifle at villagers.
Two TTY security guards, Koe Sovanna, 41, and 26-year-old Yon Chhaina, also known as Pin Kimleng, were arrested on February 4 at TTY’s office in Phnom Penh.
Following their arrests, Heng Sarath told the Post that company officials had co-operated with authorities by luring the two men to their office and alerting police.
Days earlier, Prime Minister Hun Sen had threatened to fire TTY’s owner, tycoon Na Marady, as one of his personal advisers and withdraw the company’s economic land concession licence if it refused to help find the shooters.
A third security guard, Phin Oeun, had evaded arrest because no one was sure what he looked like, police said on February 5.
It was unclear yesterday whether he was still wanted for questioning.
Chheng Sophors, senior investigator for the rights group Licadho, welcomed the authority’s efforts in detaining three suspects.
“We would appeal to the court to sentence the perpetrators. They need to provide justice for the victim, not be sentenced for a short time and released,” he said.
According to a Licadho report, five land-dispute protests turned violent between November and January, resulting in 19 villagers being injured, seven of them by gunfire.
In 2008, TTY was granted an economic land concession of more than 9,000 hectares that included farms and homes in Veal Bei village.
In the aftermath of the shooting, the government promised to return the villagers’ land.