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Villagers gather outside the Ratanakkiri Provincial Court yesterday during the defamation hearing of two community representatives. ADHOC
Villagers gather outside the Ratanakkiri Provincial Court yesterday during the defamation hearing of two community representatives. Adhoc

Ratanakkiri locals questioned in defamation lawsuit

The Ratanakkiri Provincial Court yesterday questioned two community representatives accused of defaming an official they claim sold some 30 hectares of their land to a border police official.

The two representatives are among a group of 14 accused of defamation by forest protection committee chief Pouy Plin after 11 of them filed a complaint to rights group Adhoc over the alleged sale.

The 11 filed a counter-complaint to the court just days later.

Locals Pouy Doun, 27, and his brother Pouy Kab, 42 – no relation to Plin – stood by the allegations yesterday.

“It is not only me who knows [about the sale], but also the villagers . . . [who] witnessed it,” Doun said.

Kab said that in addition to reiterating his claims about the land sale, he told court officials that Plin stole $1,400 from a community fund, though Plin yesterday denied the charges and said the money had been spent on a public pavilion.

Adhoc provincial coordinator Chhay Thy yesterday characterised the case as a ploy “to threaten the villagers”, and called for the court to take equally swift action on the community’s lawsuit.

Deputy prosecutor Morm Vanda said yesterday chief prosecutor Liv Sreng had not assigned a prosecutor to the community’s case.

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