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Villagers petition for release of prisoners

Residents of seven villages in Banteay Meanchey’s Tak-ong commune had asked their commune chief and district governor to thumbprint a petition calling for the release of three village representatives who are being detained in Battambang provincial prison, officials said on Wednesday.

The three men, identified as Sin Choeun, 54, Nol Orn, 54, and Choeun Chet, 24, were arrested by Sampov Loun district police in Battambang last  Friday on suspicion of the attempted murder and rape of businessman Sok Koeun.

Van Soeun, deputy chief of O’Svay village in Takong commune, said yesterday the init-ial rape allegations in the case had been dropped.

The villagers were arrested  after they were summoned for questioning at the Takong commune police station over a land dispute with Sok Koeun.

Van Soeun said the commune chief had agreed to thumbprint a petition affirming the suspects’ innocence.

“Tomorrow I will bring the petition to the Malai district governor for his thumbprint, then I will bring that letter to the provincial governor’s off-ice and the court office to ask for their release,” he said.

A warrant for the villagers’ arrest had been issued in 2009 following allegations by Sok Koeun, who claimed they had attempted to murder him when he tried to develop a castor-oil plantation on their land, Sampov Loun police chief Pich Saren said.

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