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Villagers upset after unwarranted arrests

About 30 villagers from Battambang’s Rattanak Mondol district protested at the provincial police station to demand the release of two of their fellow Kilomet 38 villagers who had been arrested without warrants and detained yesterday morning, villagers there said.

The two villagers were grabbed by police as they were leaving their homes yesterday morning and were detained at the provincial court without any court summons, Iv Kheang said yesterday.

“We would like to ask the provincial police to release our two people, but the police have told us the two villagers, who are my two cousins, have already been sent to prison,” Iv Kheang said.

On December 19, 2011, Iv Kheang and another villager who had been arrested over a land dispute between the Kilomet 38 villagers and two senior RCAF officers, were broken out of police custody by a group of about 30 villagers who stormed the provincial court as the two were being escorted to a police truck after questioning.

Chhoy Hor, another villager who joined yesterday’s protest, said both the men arrested that morning were innocent. “Our 43 families have been living here since 1982, but in 1998, when CMAC cleared the area of mines, the RCAF officers came in and accused us of taking their land,” Chhoy Hor said.

“We would like to ask the police to stop putting pressure on us to give up our land and release our two villagers,” Chhoy Hor added.

Leang Vuthy, deputy police chief in Rattank Mondol district, where Kilomet 38 is located, said court summonses had been issued, accusing the two detained villagers of taking over private property.

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