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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Shooting probe ends amid fears

Shooting probe ends amid fears

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090401_04.jpg

Villagers from Siem Reap's Chi Kraeng commune say they don't trust govt inspection will be fair.

Photo by:
TOM HUNTER

Chi Kraeng villagers who were shot by security services in hospital last week. 

THE MINISTRY of Interior has wound up its investigation into last week's outbreak of violence between police and villagers in Siem Reap's Chi Kraeng commune, but villagers say they do not trust the government to handle the case fairly, journeying Monday to Phnom Penh to request an independent investigation by the National Assembly.

Siem Reap Provincial Deputy Governor Bun Tharidth told the Post Tuesday that a group of inspectors led by Chhem Sarak, a deputy chairman of the Inspection Department of the Ministry of Interior, had launched a March 25-28 probe of the events in the province, which saw four villagers shot by police in connection with a long-running land dispute between residents in neighbouring communes.

"I welcomed the inspection group, and accompanied them to the scene for their investigation," he said.

Neither Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak nor Chhem Sarak could be reached for comment over the progress of the investigation, but Chi Kraeng community representative Thoang Sareith said that the villagers had not yet met any inspectors from the Ministry of Interior over the "land violation" and violence that exploded in the area last week.

"Since March 22, we have fled our village, fearing arrest and concerned about our personal safety," he said. "Until now, we haven't received any assurances that authorities will guarantee our security and solve our problems in a fair, unbiased and just way."

But he said the villagers still had hope that the National Assembly would conduct a fair investigation in the land dispute case, adding that they were staying temporarily at a pagoda in Phnom Penh waiting to present their case to the Assembly when it reconvenes this week.

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