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King supports rights groups

KING Norodom Sihamoni is backing a local rights group’s letter urging intervention in the case of a controversial Ratanakkiri judge accused of irregularities in a simmering land dispute, the NGO said.

News of the unusual move from the monarch came a day after Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana announced that Ratanakkiri provincial court Judge Thor Saron would face an investigation over an unrelated allegation that he haddriven for personal use a truck that had been impounded as evidence in a murder trial.

According to the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), King Sihamoni has written to Ang Vong Vathana, a member of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, urging him to conduct an investigation into Thor Saron.

CCHR investigator Chhim Savudth said his group received a copy of the letter Tuesday from the King’s cabinet.

Judge disputes allegations
In September, the CCHR urged an investigation into allegations against Thor Saron regarding an ongoing land dispute in Ratanakkiri involving ethnic minorities and a private company.

The judge had been accused of releasing some of the arrested villagers in exchange for land.

The judge on Tuesday welcomed the King’s apparent intervention.

“I welcome the royal letter to conduct an investigation, but I would countersue these people for wrongly accusing me of releasing culprits in return for a sum of money and land,” Thor Saron said.

“It’s a complete slander against me,” he said.

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