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Four men accused of breaking terms of bail

FOUR men who were released on bail late last year after being detained a year earlier in connection with a land dispute in Ratanakkiri province were summoned to court yesterday after allegedly breaching the terms of their release.

The men, from Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat district, were originally charged in relation to an ongoing land dispute with the DM Group rubber firm, which erupted in a violent protest in November 2008.

Ratanakkiri provincial court’s presiding judge Thor Saron said the men had been summoned for causing social disorder, incitement and failing to attend weekly meetings at the local commune office in line with the terms of their bail agreement.

“I am calling them to court to question them because they did not respect their bail agreement with the court,” he said.

“Their actions affect social security, create disorder and incite other people, creating disorder in society.”

He would not say whether the men would be detained, but he suggested that they may instead be educated about violating the terms of their bail.

Since 2007, villagers have claimed 260 hectares of land within DM Group’s rubber plantation, saying it previously belonged to the community.

When contacted yesterday, all four men denied they had breached their bail, arguing that they had merely circulated petitions protesting the alleged annexation of their land by DM Group.

“We just collected thumbprints to demand our land back,” Sin Vev, one of the four men, said yesterday.

He said the group had collected more than 60 thumbprints opposing the company, and he denied having failed to attend weekly meetings at the commune office.

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