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Charges in Ratanakkiri arson

The Ratanakkiri Provincial Court yesterday charged two staffers of Vietnamese rubber concessionaire Hoang Anh Ratanakkiri (CRD) with causing intentional damage for allegedly setting fire to several homes belonging to a landowner with whom they were embroiled in a land dispute, deputy prosecutor Mom Vanda said.

Under the penal code, suspects Nguyeng Hong Fou, 30, a chief of staff, and his Cambodian translator Sim Borin, 31, could face sentences of two to five years in prison and fines between four and 10 million riel.  

Ly Sok Ngim, owner of the plantation where the buildings were set ablaze, said she had filed a complaint with police seeking $200,000 in damages from Hoang Anh Ratanakkiri, which she said was the parent company of CRD.

Sok Ngim maintained that Hoang Anh Rattankiri – through CRD – had bulldozed her land multiple times before raiding it on Monday.

“Seventy workers with cleavers and metal bars on two homemade tractors dismantled the house and huts and burned them down with gasoline,” she said. “A few children were sleeping in the huts. They were taken out in time, or they would have died in the fire.”

Kong Saroeurn, 51, one of the 29 workers filing their own complaint, said she couldn’t work after hurting her lower back while evading the men.

“I was on a tractor, and a Vietnamese man doused me with gasoline,” she said. “I was shocked to death, and jumped off of the tractor, or I would have died in the fire.”

The workers filed a complaint to police seeking 4 million riel to replace cash lost in the fire, she said.

Hoang Anh Ratankkiri could not be reached for comment.



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