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Villagers seek release of suspects in murder

MORE than 120 people gathered at Banteay Meanchey provincial court Tuesday and Wednesday to press for the release of two men detained by local police on allegations of robbery and murder.

Police arrested Rasmey Samakki village representative Van Saroeun, 56, and Van Da, age unknown, Saturday in connection with the robbery and killing of a Buddhist layman at O'Chrov district's Rasmey Samakki pagoda in April.

"It is unjust for my husband, who is innocent and docile," said Van Saroeun's wife, Horn Saron, 48.

"We are all ... hoping that they will release my husband and the other villager from prison; otherwise we won't return home."

Villager Prom Hong, 30, said the group had gathered to "call for justice", adding that the villagers had not been given "clear reasons" for the
court's action.

Provincial police Chief Hun Hean said Wednesday the accused men were wanted in connection with a robbery in Prey Veng province as well, and that both provincial courts had issued warrants for their arrest.

"Our men have two court warrants ... to arrest Van Saroeun and another man for allegedly robbing and killing a clergyman and attempting to kill another two monks on [April 19]," he said.

"Saroeun's acts were very brutal. People should not have protected him by calling for his release at court."

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