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Shot villagers call for arrest

One of three protesters who was shot in Battambang province earlier this month is helped to the hospital.

Three villagers shot in a clash with security guards during a land protest on December 12 have written to their provincial court demanding the arrest of one of the alleged gunmen.

Soeng Heang, 34, Chot Kun, 52, and Chhoeung Neang, 28, from Chakrei commune in Battambang province’s Phnom Proek district, lodged a complaint to the provincial court and human-rights group Adhoc calling for the arrest of military police official Lieutenant-Colonel Chan Ny.

The men claim Chan Ny, a security guard hired by the developer Suon Mean Sambath Company, was one of the security guards who opened fire on them with AK-47s after they protested against having their cameras confiscated while off-icials measured land.

Chot Kun said the shooting had yet to be investigated.

“I just want the man who shot me to go to prison,” he said.

Suon Mean, owner of the Suon Mean Sambath Company, said Chan Ny, who could not be reached for comment, was recovering in hospital in Vietnam because villagers had attacked him and injured his eye.

“We will file a complaint on villagers too, because villagers used violence on him. He only opened fire to protect company officials,” he said.

Adhoc provincial co-ordinator Yin Mengly said he had received the villagers’ complaint and would write a letter to the provincial prosecutor urging him to investigate the case.

“The court has to find the offenders and sentence them accordingly – they can’t just be allowed to shoot freely.”

Ouch Leng, head of Adhoc’s land program, said provincial governments had a responsibility to resolve similar disputes before they descended into violence.

“However, there has been an increase in action taken by the court against villagers recently,” he said.

“This is because [authorities] rarely investigate and learn the background of the case . . . they act after listening to the complaints of the powerful and rich companies.”

On May 24, the government granted about 4,000 hectares of the Roneam Donsam wildlife sanctuary, in Sampov Loun and Phnom Proek districts, to the Suon Mean Sambath Company to be developed as an agricultural site.

The land, home to more than 1000 families, had been reclassified as public land just a short time before the government awarded it to the Suon Mean Sambath Company.

Provincial court director  Yov Naroth could not be reached for comment.



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