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9 charged in land fight

9 charged in land fight

Siem Reap Province

NINE villagers from Siem Reap province's Chi Kraeng commune were charged with robbery and assault Monday over their participation in a weekend clash with military police that left three villagers in hospital with bullet wounds.

The confrontation, triggered by a long-standing local land dispute, saw the arrest of 40 individuals, but most were released by authorities after pledging to give up their claims to 92 hectares of land contested with villagers from a neighbouring commune.

The villagers appeared in Siem Reap courthouse Monday before being detained at Siem Reap prison. Yin Srang, chief clerk at the prosecutor's office at Siem Reap provincial court, told the Post that the trial of the nine villagers is expected to start in four to six months.

He said it is likely more prosecutions will follow, though he is not sure if the three hospitalised Chi Kraeng villagers will be charged.

A group of local rights groups also met with provincial Governor Sou Phirin Tuesday seeking solutions to the land dispute involving villagers from Chi Kraeng and Anlong Samnor communes.

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, comprising 21 local NGOs, and the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke for three hours with the governor, who promised to resolve the dispute fairly with participation from civil society groups.

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