Almost 150 villagers gathered outside the Pursat Provincial Court yesterday as an activist was questioned over allegations of defamation, incitement to commit a felony and discrediting court decisions.
Land rights activist Kuch Veng, 52, from Krakor district, was questioned by the court for two hours while villagers from five communes, fearing his detention, protested until he was allowed to leave.
After Veng spoke out in 2012 and 2013 against the eviction of 21 families to make way for a community forest on state-owned land on which they had been farming since 1983, and after he publicly criticised a five-year sentence handed down to one of the protesters in 2015, Sna Ansa commune chief Mouk Kor filed a lawsuit against him last August. Kuch and his supporters yesterday requested the court drop the suit.
“The information [we distribute] is to help the society, not to incite any crime. It is not an attack on anyone – it is to halt land-grabbing and natural resource destruction,” Veng said.
“I am sick. If the court detained me, it would be like killing me,” he added. Veng suffers from gallbladder and blood diseases that require him to take medicine daily.
Commune chief Kor declined to elaborate on the allegations.
“I already appeared for questioning after I sued him [Kuch Veng], so let the court do its job,” he said.
Long Cheab, a provincial spokesman, said the court was investigating the case and had not charged Veng yet.