Borei Keila residents’ attempts to have seven villagers freed from prison hit a hurdle yesterday when a Phnom Penh Municipal Court clerk told them that their written request could not be accepted because it wasn’t formal enough, they said.
Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post
Former Borei Keila residents sit outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.
Pich Limkhoun, a representative of 37 Borei Keila residents who gathered in front of city hall to lodge the request, said they were shocked to have their thumbprinted letter handed back because it was not formally addressed to the court.
“The court clerk, whose name I don’t know, told us that he could not accept our request because it did not comply with court procedure,” he said.
The letter, obtained by the Post, asks the government and the municipal court to intervene to release seven villagers detained in Prey Sar prison since violent clashes in Borei Keila on January 3 and to make development firm Phan Imex build the final two buildings it agreed in 2003 to construct.
The letter also asks Phan Imex to compensate villagers whose houses were destroyed on January 3 and 4 and protesters who were detained in Prey Speu social affairs centre from January 11 to 18.
The court clerk could not be reached for comment.
Eight villagers were charged with using violence against public officials on January 3 and seven remain in Prey Sar prison.
Their defence lawyer, Chin Lyda, said the municipal court had released one of his clients, Mom Vuthdy, on January 17.
Mom Vuthdy’s husband Brak Sophal told the Post that Phan Imex owner Suy Sophan and the authority had since given them a flat.
“We are happy to live in a flat in Borei Keila,” he said.
About 50 people from families who were evicted and resettled in Kandal province have returned to Borei Keila, despite having no houses to live in.
One of them, Hang Moeuth, 29, said he and others had been unable to find work close to their relocation site and returned to Phnom Penh because they were desperate for money.
“I came to Phnom Penh to earn money for food, because we are poor,” he said.
“We will die of starvation if we cannot find a job in Phnom Penh.”
The plots that Phan Imex had given them in Kandal province were 4.75 metres by 12 metres, which were smaller than they were promised, he added.