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Jail, fines in Preah Vihear land case

Jail, fines in Preah Vihear land case

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court on Friday convicted 16 people of illegally occupying and clearing a protected forest in Preah Vihear and using weapons against authorities who tried to evict them.

The confrontation took place in November 2007 in the Choam Ksarn district of Preah Vihear. Two villagers were killed, including the wife of one of the defendants.

"Only eight of the 16 defendants appeared in court as the other half remain at large," Judge Ke Sokhan said after Friday's sentencing hearing, adding that those not present have been sentenced in absentia.

Sentences

Former Preah Vihear deputy governor Meas Savoeun was sentenced to nine years in prison and fined US$20,000, including $5,000 in compensation, the judge said.

Six other defendants received sentences of five years in prison and fines of $12,500 for their roles in the incident. All six were credited with time served and released from prison.

Three other defendants received prison sentences of seven years and a $2,500 fine, the judge said. Five further defendants were given one- or two-year prison terms and $1,000 fines but were credited with time served and released.

The judge dropped the illegal clearing charge against one defendant, Such Sophea, who still must pay a fine of $1,500.

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