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After court storming, appeals to be sped up

Villagers surround the entrance of Ratanakkiri's provincial courthouse after destroying the gate on Wednesday.
Villagers surround the entrance of Ratanakkiri Provincial Court after destroying the gate on Wednesday. Adhoc

After court storming, appeals to be sped up

Authorities have vowed to expedite the appeal of three community representatives whose fellow villagers stormed Ratanakkiri’s provincial courthouse on Wednesday after the trio was jailed over a land dispute, according to a local human rights worker.

Supporters of Chroeung Touch, Em Chan and Sort Soeun, community representatives from Bakeo district’s Keh Chung commune, yesterday stayed in the provincial capital to continue lobbying for their release.

According to Adhoc rights monitor Chhay Thy, representatives of the Ministry of Justice and local authorities met the group and pledged to speed up the appeal and even flagged the possibility of releasing the men.

“The villagers decided to break up and return back to their homes after there was a compromise . . . but they said if there was no resolution in five days, they will gather and come back to the court again,” he added.

The men were jailed over a land dispute with Ministry of Interior immigration official Heng Socheat.

Socheat sued the community representatives in 2013, claiming they began squatting on the land after he bought it in 2007.

However the villagers – who have also petitioned the court calling for their community representatives’ release – accuse the official of stealing their land.

Ratanakkiri court president Suos La said the case was out of his hands. “This case now has been passed over from the provincial court.”

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