The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday dropped a five-year-old set of charges against six Dey Krahorm community evictees who had been accused by Tonle Bassac commune chief Khat Narith of destruction of public property and incitement to commit a crime, said Ham Sunrith, the evictees’ lawyer.
“They are all free of the charges,” he said, while noting that the plaintiff still had one month to file an appeal. Narith, however, who said he hadn’t heard about the verdict until being asked about it by a reporter, said he “would not file an appeal”.
The charges stemmed from a January 2008 protest in which the defendants were accused of inciting residents protesting their planned eviction to throw stones at a commune-owned bulldozer.
Am Sam Ath, a technical advisor for the rights group Licadho, welcomed the development, saying: “Authorities and development companies should deal peacefully with residents in land disputes, and shouldn’t use the courts to threaten or intimidate people who protest land issues.”
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