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Judge to query former NGO staff over abuses

Preah Vihear provincial court plans to summon a further 10 former employees of an NGO for questioning in connection with numerous alleged human rights abuses, including rape, officials said yesterday.

Last week, two former staff members of the NGO Drugs and AIDS Research and Prevention Organisation (DARPO), Kong Tola and Phearom, were issued summonses ordering them to appear in court for questioning in February.

Provincial court clerk Hem Pheakdey said he  planned to issue the summonses today.

“The 10 [former staff members] are accused of intentionally causing injuries, including rape,” Hem Pheakdey said.

“They are ordered to appear in court for questioning on February 8 and 9. If they do not appear, the court will issue arrest warrants for them.”

A villager in the province’s Choam Ksan district, 54-year-old Khin Khun, alleged yesterday that one of the men being summonsed had raped her 13-year-old daughter in July 2010 and that, 10 days later, some of the men being summonsed beat her until she was permanently disabled.

“They kicked and beat and badgered me. I am a disabled person now, and my family is miserable,” she said.

Khin Khun said that she had filed a complaint with rights group Adhoc last year and has since been seeking intervention from the provincial court.

Adhoc provincial coordinator Lor Chann told the Post last week that in 2007, DARPO was granted a 556-hectare land concession in the province with instructions from the government to distribute it to families in need.

Lor Chann claimed that the NGO instead charged villagers for plots of land.

Since DARPO was granted the concession, Adhoc had received complaints that NGO representatives had subjected local villagers to “threats, rape and torture”, Lor Chann said last week.

DARPO has since filed for bankruptcy and the NGO has disbanded.

“I urged the court again and again to take action on this case and, as a result, the investigative judges have issued the summonses,” Lor Chann said yesterday.

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