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Villagers ‘arrested’ over land row

Three people locked in a land dispute with a military police officer in Svay Rieng province were yesterday arrested at their homes, accused of destroying property, a villager said.

Long Sokheng, 29, said military police arrived at the disputed land, in Chantrea district, at 6:30am to arrest the villagers, including 65-year-old Koeut No, who presides over weddings and funerals. “When Uncle Koeut No was preparing himself for a funeral, military police arrived and handcuffed him,” he said.

The 74 families involved in the dispute say they lived peacefully on the land from 1980 until Sim Chheang, a military police officer, claimed in 2004 to have bought the land. The Supreme Court ruled in his favour in 2012.

Chheang, military police and provincial court officials could not be reached yesterday.

Has Yet, Chantrea commune police chief, said he was yet to hear of the arrests, adding that military police were working with the court on a case against the villagers.

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