SVAY Rieng provincial court has issued arrest warrants for three villagers who uprooted temporary markers near the Vietnamese border in October, after they disobeyed a summons to appear in court on December 24.
The warrants, copies of which have been obtained by the Post, accuse the three local villagers of “purposely destroy[ing] Cambodia-Vietnam border marker Post 185”.
“This orders the arrest of the accused … and for them to be sent to court, which should take legal action,” state the warrants, issued December 25 under the signature of Investigating Judge Long Kesphyrom.
The three named in the warrants – Prak Chea, 28, Neang Phally, 39, and Prak Koeun, 38 – joined with opposition leader Sam Rainsy in uprooting the posts during a Buddhist ceremony in Chantrea district on October 25, claiming they were placed on their land by Vietnamese authorities.
Pov Pheap, deputy chief of Samrong commune, said Sunday that Svay Rieng provincial Governor Cheang Am spoke with villagers in Chantrea district’s Samrong commune that morning, reassuring them that the three people would not be arrested if they returned home.
“Excellency Cheang Am said that the people who fled should not fear to come back home … There will be no arrest. He said it openly like this,” Pov Pheap said.
Fear of retribution
The three fled after provincial authorities arrested their fellow villagers Meas Srey, 39, and Prom Chea, 41, at the court when they appeared for questioning on December 23. All five received the same summons to appear at court.
Sam Rainsy, who is currently abroad in Europe, also faces arrest over the incident after failing to appear in court on December 28. He is charged with incitement and the destruction of private property.
Cheang Am and Long Kesphyrom could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, declined to comment on the case in detail, but said that since the first two villagers were jailed, the other three would have likely faced the same fate if they obeyed their court summons.
“We have concerns about the safety of these three people,” he said.
“The two villagers were jailed on the same such citation, so the fate of the three people will not be different.”