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Officials named after blocking volunteers

Authorities in Stung Treng province have released the names of five government officials whom they arrested on Tuesday in Samki commune for interfering with a corps of youth volunteers sent to measure land as part of the prime minister’s national initiative to grant property to Cambodians displaced by land disputes.

According to Sao Sarem, the deputy provincial commander of the military police, the officials are Meas Sokun, a legal adviser to the Cambodian People’s Party; Kuch Prisovan, her husband and a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces; Van San, an RCAF colonel; Meas Kearithy, an RCAF soldier; and military police officer Prak Sith.

Three of them were released yesterday due to their limited roles in the incident, he said.

“We currently only detained the couple Kuch Prisovan and Meas Sokun, who seriously insulted the student volunteers working on [the initiative] of the Premier Hun Sen, and their car contained loads of land dispute-related documents,” he said.

The arrests were made after the officials stopped the volunteers from doing their jobs and tried to force them to measure land for private development. Sarem said that the legal adviser, Sokun, took the lead and began berating the students.

“She dropped a flood of insults and curses on … the students for about half an hour, as if it were a forum, which caused the residents [of Samki commune] to panic,” he said, adding that she had no right to make demands.

Loy Sophat, the provincial governor of Stung Treng, could not be reached for comment.

Chreng Kmao, the provincial court prosecutor in Stung Treng, said that the military police didn’t send the five to court but ordered the police to investigate at the scene in order to find evidence from the students and residents.

Why the officials were so strident in their opposition to the students remains unclear, said senior investigator at Adhoc, Chan Soveth.

But he said that the arrests are a positive sign, “because they are a move towards success in solving land disputes for residents”.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at titthara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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