Preah Vihear provincial court has detained the president of the Democratic Republic Party and an accomplice for “inciting others to encroach on community land and inciting violence”, court spokeswoman Chum Kaniya said on Sunday.
Kaniya told The Post that Panhchakseila, 60, also known as Yeay Men, and her accomplice Chan Pheap, 45, were temporarily detained at Preah Vihear provincial prison on April 12 in accordance with land laws.
“The provincial court decided to detain the two temporarily for further investigation, but I don’t recall under which Article [of the law],” she said.
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told The Post on Sunday that the court’s decision to arrest Panhchakseila – a former member of the Supreme Council for Consultation and Recommendations – and Pheap was made after some 100 local protesters had demanded the release of 14 prisoners on April 9.
Kim Khoeun said the protesters drove eight rice tractors and 31 motorbikes and wielded weapons including knives, hammers, batons and an axe.
“They gathered a large group of villagers to grab public land at Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary. Initially, the authorities attempted to negotiate with them and find a peaceful solution."
"But they used the tractors to crash through the police barricade, so the decision was made to arrest and detain them. Police reprimanded 80 protestors and educated them, allowing them to return home on the condition that they do not participate in this type of activity again,” Kim Khoeun said.
Preah Vihear provincial police chief Yin Chamnan was unavailable for comment on Sunday.
A Preah Vihear city policeman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Post on Sunday that Panhchakseila had led the group of villagers to Oddar Meanchey province's Trapaing Prasat District Hall.
The source said the protestors were not looking for a peaceful resolution with the police and threatened to use violence.
After that, the policeman said, they travelled on National Road 69B towards National Road 62 intending to release 14 prisoners from Preah Vihear provincial prison.
Cambodian Youth Party president Pich Sros – who is a member of the Supreme Council for Consultation and Recommendations – said on Thursday that the court’s decision to arrest and detain Panhchakseila did not involve the council.
“She lost her rights as a member of the Supreme Council for Consultation in December 2018 because her party’s congress changed the party’s leadership structure."
"The Ministry of Interior has already recognised and accepted the new structure of leadership and changed the party name from the Democratic Republic Party to the Democratic Nokor Party,” Sros said.
The Forestry Law and the Natural Protected Area Law state that clearing or grabbing forest land to make it personal property is illegal.
Offenders face five to 10 years in prison and a fine of 10 million riel to 150 million riel ($2,500 to $37,500).