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No charges in Poipet riot

Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities say they have decided not to pursue criminal charges in the case of a strike-turned-riot by cross-border porters that saw four injured and the facade of the Poipet Office of the Customs and Excise Department smashed by flying bricks.

Deputy Provincial Governor Chong Phet said that the decision was made after a meeting yesterday between the governor, military and provincial police officials, customs representatives and other local authorities.

In the immediate wake of the protest – in which workers who transport carts full of goods across the Thai border called for lower Customs and Excise tax rates – officials had variously blamed the outbreak of violence on a local Cambodia National Rescue Party commune official, a union boss and the businesspeople who hire the porters to haul their goods.

“However, the result of the investigation of the joint committee has found no evidence that can be used to accuse someone after the strike, and our authorities have no plans to arrest or charge a person,” Phet said during an interview yesterday.

The remainder of the meeting, Phet said, focussed on generally maintaining security and public order, and educating local authorities on how to prevent residents from being incited toward reacting violently.

But, he added, given the damage to the customs office, as well as cars and motorbikes parked in front of it, the institution does have the right to file a formal complaint to the court to launch further investigations. If a subsequent investigation yields evidence, the court could take legal action in the future.

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