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Bulldozer incident dredged up

Two villagers were questioned by Mondulkiri court officials yesterday over a two-year-old dispute with a Chinese company that has since been stripped of their licence and left Cambodia.

The two men are accused of hijacking Dai Nam company’s bulldozer in 2014 to stop the company from clearing forest on land that ethnic Phnong consider spiritually significant in Pech Chreada district.

At the time, the company filed a complaint against Sok Toeu, Yem Tha, and village chief Kroeun Bunthoeun for theft with aggravating circumstances. Bunthoeun has since passed away.

The company’s licence was revoked by the government in 2015. “I don’t understand the reason for questioning us now, because the Chinese company went to China already, but the court still takes action against us,” Toeu said.

According to Toeu, the community returned the bulldozer to the company, which then tried to compensate villagers with $250.

While the men were being questioned yesterday, 60 villagers protested outside the court, fearing they would be put in pre-trial detention.

Meas Bros, provincial court spokesman, said the company never dropped the case and authorities are just enforcing the law.

“The court did not detain them . . . They are allowed to return home, but need to appear at the police station,” he said.

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