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TTY guards in custody after ‘trick’

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Two of the three TTY Company security guards wanted over the shooting of four protesters in Kratie province last month were arrested on Saturday after the company lured them to its office and handed them in to police, officials said yesterday.

Photo Supplied
A security guard hired by TTY Company points an assault rifle at villagers during a protest in Kratie Province.

Heng Sarath, deputy-general of TTY, said Koe Sovanna and Yon Chhaina were taken to the Ministry of Interior after telling him they had found an AK-47 they allegedly used in the Snuol district shooting “in the forest”.

“We summoned them from Preah Vihear and Battambang, their homelands, and then took them to the police,” Heng Sarath said.

“We asked them where they got the guns, and they said they found them in the forest.”

Phin Oeun, a third man wanted for questioning over the Veal Bei village shooting, which injured four people, had not yet been found because no one was sure what he looked like, Heng Sarath said.

On January 18, a TTY security guard fired an AK-47 assault rifle into a crowd of about 400 that had tried to block the company’s bulldozers from clearing their cassava plantations.

Prime Minister Hun Sen last week threatened to sack TTY director Na Marady as his adviser and withdraw the company’s economic land concession licence if the tycoon refused to help find the three men.

Mao Rainny, deputy military police chief in Kratie province, said officers made the arrests after help from TTY.

“The company cooperated with the authorities by playing a trick on these two people by calling them to the office and handing them over to authorities,” he said.

Hak Hoin, the deputy provincial prosecutor, said the two suspects were taken to court yesterday and were being questioned.

He expected they would be charged with using an illegal gun and intentionally causing violence.

“According to the picture, one of the men standing on the machinery is carrying a gun, so we don’t know what their defence will be in court,” he said.

Neth Rottana, a protester who was shot while trying to protect her cassava, said she was happy to hear of the arrests.

“I am no longer worried about the company’s security guards coming to abuse me and my fellow villagers,” she said.

“I just want the court to try them according to the law, and provide justice for us.”

Without Hun Sen’s intervention, police would still be looking for the security guards, she said.

“I really believed the prime minister’s promise,” she said.

Chan Soveth, a senior investigator for human-rights group Adhoc, said Hun Sen’s intervention and the men’s arrests were good for Cambodia.

“If it weren’t for this order from the prime minister, police would not have acted this quickly,” he said. “When cases involve powerful people in this country, police and courts are usually afraid to act.”

In 2008, TTY was granted a more than 9,000-hectare economic land concession that included farms and homes in Veal Bei village.

The government has promised to return the villagers’ land.

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