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Court hearing postponed in forest shooting

A COURT hearing on complaints filed by Forestry Administration officials who say they were shot at by former soldiers when they tried to clear a protected forest area in Oddar Meanchey province was postponed Tuesday when a Siem Reap provincial court judge failed to show up for questioning.

A total of 11 officials based in Samraong were summoned for questioning, as were two RCAF soldiers accused of persuading 200 families to move to the protected area from their village 50 kilometres away.

Earlier this month, complaints were filed with the Interior Ministry and the Siem Reap court following an altercation in which members of military families living in the area allegedly opened fire on Forestry Administration officials and physically assaulted 10 of them.

“We came to appear at the court, but the provincial judges were absent because they were busy having a meeting in Phnom Penh. They should’ve confirmed with us – we have wasted our time,” said Von Buntheoun, the chief of the Forestry Administration office in Samraong town.

The case is being handled by the Siem Reap court because there is no court in Oddar Meanchey.

Siem Reap provincial court prosecutor Ty Soveinthal said the 11 officials should remain in Siem Reap until a new session is scheduled, but the officials said that they had already spent too much money on the trip and planned to return home. The judge, Keo Sok Bundith, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The two soldiers who were summoned, Hean Sok and Kim Saruon, also did not appear and could not be reached.

The estimated 200 families who have recently moved to the protected area, which was granted protected status last June, agreed in mid-March to leave.

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