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Summonses reportedly issued in forest spat

Summonses reportedly issued in forest spat

SIEM Reap provincial court has reportedly summoned 11 community forest monitors and three soldiers involved in a March altercation over land in Oddar Meanchey province that officials say has been settled illegally.

Word of the summonses came Tuesday from those who were involved in the March altercation, though the prosecutor handling the case denied that any had been issued.

Sa Thlai, the provincial chief of community forests, said the summonses, received Tuesday morning, order him and 10 members of his staff to appear at the court on May 25, when they will be questioned individually between 8am and 2pm.

He added that all who had been summoned would appear.

“We will be on time to appear at the court to clarify about how soldiers clashed with our monitors when we went to ask them to tear down their illegal settlements in the protected forest area on March 11,” Sa Thlai said.

He was referring to an incident in which some members of the 200 families that have settled in the protected area, near Samraong town, assaulted forestry monitors who had gone to inform them that they were impinging on designated community forest land. Five forestry monitors were reported injured.

Sa Thlai added that he had also received summonses to be delivered to three soldiers allegedly involved in the incident.

Mok Sovann, a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces commander based in Samraong, said he had not yet heard about the summonses, but that the case should not be pursued because families had begun relocating on Monday.

Thon Nol, the governor of Samraong town, said a few families had been moved as of Tuesday afternoon, and that officials hoped the process would be complete “in two or three weeks”. He also said he knew nothing about the summonses.

Siem Reap provincial court prosecutor Ty Soveinthal denied that the summonses had been issued, saying, “We did not issue any summonses to the protected forest monitors or other soldiers yet.”

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