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Police officers file complaint

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Armed police flee from villagers last Thursday during a violent confrontation over an area of disputed land in two communes in Kampong Speu province.

Officials in Kampong Speu province’s Oudong district have filed a complaint against villagers for using violence after four policemen were injured while enforcing a court verdict to evict local residents on Thursday, officials said yesterday.

District police chief Khim Samon said the injured officers had filed a complaint against certain villagers for “using violence and causing scars”, but did not specify the number or names of the accused.

At least 11 people, including the four policemen, were injured in the clash between about 250 armed residents from Damnak Raing and Phnom Touch communes and a 300-strong force of police and military officials in Stock Slat village on Thursday.

A police officer left unconscious after the confrontation had been released from hospital last week, officials said.

Officials armed with electric batons, shields and guns were attempting to enforce a 2009 Supreme Court verdict awarding a 65-hectare plot of land occupied by the villagers to the Meng Keth Company, owned by Taiwanese businessman Kuo Sheng.

The dispute between at least 88 families in the area and Meng Keth Company has been ongoing since 2004, when company representative Ky Dara filed a complaint claiming that the land belonged to the firm.

Provincial police chief Keo Pisey said yesterday that villagers had also used violence against authorities that came to implement the same verdict in March last year.

Provincial court prosecutor Khut Sopheang said yesterday that he had not yet received any complaints against residents.

Yesterday, villagers stated that the complaints filed against them were a new threat in the ongoing dispute.

Sun Samnang, 40, from Angtasit village, who was struck by an electric baton on Thursday, said officials had used batons and guns to attack the villagers.

“We agree to be imprisoned [if necessary] and we struggle to defend our land,” she said.

“If the authorities don’t violate us, we don’t violate them.”

A statement released by the rights group Licadho on Friday said the land had been sold to the company by “military officials” and condemned the violence used “on both sides of the dispute”.

Licadho, however, admonished local officials for failing to prevent the clash.

“In this situation, the authorities – in particular, the prosecutor charged with enforcing the eviction order – bore a moral and legal obligat-ion to avoid the violence,” the statement said.

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