EIGHT people have been summoned to appear in Svay Rieng provincial court today and Wednesday for questioning in connection with an October incident in which opposition leader Sam Rainsy joined local residents in uprooting posts marking the border between Cambodia and Vietnam.
Pov Pheap, second deputy chief of Samrong commune in Svay Rieng’s Chantrea district, said Monday that he and two officials from nearby Bavet commune – Sok Sam Ien and Suk Korn – would appear at the court, though he maintained the innocence of all who have been summoned.
“We will not escape; we must appear in court in order to avoid arrest,” Pov Pheap said. “We are not afraid of being summoned because we have not done anything wrong.”
All three commune officials are members of the Sam Rainsy Party, Pov Pheap added.
In addition to the commune officials, five villagers from Chantrea district will also appear for questioning. The commune officials and the villagers joined Sam Rainsy in his October protest over what they said were continued encroachments on their land by the Vietnamese.
Sam Rainsy has been summoned to appear in Svay Rieng provincial court on Monday, though he remains abroad in Europe and it is unclear whether he plans to attend.
A citation issued last week by Judge Long Kesphyrom stated that the opposition leader was charged with racial incitement and the destruction of property, and that a warrant would be issued for his arrest if he did not appear as ordered.
Meas Srey, one of the villagers summoned to the court, said there were many more than five people in her community who had lost land to the Vietnamese, but that most of her neighbours did not dare to complain publicly.
“I am not afraid. I have not done anything wrong. I saw the poles planted on my land, and I uprooted them,” she said.
Another villager summoned to appear, Prom Chea, said he was nervous about his day in court, though he also maintained that he and the others who participated in the protest had done nothing wrong.
“I’m worried about losing land, so I complained. I relied on the government to resolve the situation, but they did not resolve it,” he said, adding that he and his family had lost between 4 and 5 hectares of land to Vietnamese encroachment.
Judge Long Kesphyrom could not be reached for comment Monday.