Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chi Kraeng villagers free

Chi Kraeng villagers free

Chi Kraeng villagers free

110323_2
Nine Chi Kraeng villagers are given food and water prior to their hearing at Siem Reap Provincial Court yesterday. The court found them not guilty of stealing rice in 2009 and released them.

Siem Reap Provincial Court yesterday released nine villagers from Chi Kraeng commune after acquitting them on charges of stealing rice harvests in neighbouring Anlong Samnor Commune in 2009.

Earlier this month, the provincial Appeal Court had upheld three-year sentences for the same nine villagers, on a separate charge of stealing rice harvests from Anlong Samnor commune

“The nine Chi Kraeng villagers were released at 6:50pm [yesterday] and have been returned to their homeland,” said Am Sam Ath, a technical coordinator for the local rights group Licadho.

“They are all in good health,” he said.

Am Sam Ath added that none of the nine villagers were facing additional charges.

The villagers had been imprisoned since their arrest on March 22, 2009.

Luon Savat, a monk and village representative, suggested the villagers were never guilty of stealing rice harvests to begin with.

“The court should not have detained the villagers from one year to the next,” he said. “It is an injustice for them. They were planting rice, so why accuse them of stealing it?”

The stolen property case was part of an ongoing land dispute between villagers in Chi Kraeng and Anlong Samnor communes, both of which are located in Chi Kraeng district.

A total of 12 villagers from Chi Kraeng have been arrested in the dispute. Three remain behind bars on charges  related to the land dispute.

In March 2009, military police fired on Chi Kraeng villagers attempting to harvest rice on the disputed land, injuring four in the process. A total of 46 villagers, including the nine released yesterday, were arrested and detained for questioning in the altercation.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen to ‘step down’ if he loses Sam Rainsy bet over Kem Sokha

    Hun Sen has promised to step down as prime minister while opposition figure Sam Rainsy pledges to turn himself in as forfeits if the long-term political rivals lose a “bet” over the future of former opposition leader Kem Sokha, who is on bail awaiting trial

  • UAE prince seeks to invest in Cambodia

    The UAE has expressed interest in Cambodian oil and gas exploration. Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem said this was the result of his discussions with Sheikh Ahmed bin Dalmook bin Juma al-Maktoum, a member of the royal family who visited him on Wednesday.

  • Kem Sokha off the menu as Smith talks judicial independence

    The UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, on Tuesday, focused on “judicial independence” at a meeting with Ministry of Justice officials. Both Smith and ministry spokesman Chin Malin said the former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (

  • Smith calls for ‘release’ of Sokha as visit ends

    At a press conference to conclude her 11-day visit to Cambodia, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith on Thursday called for treason charges against former opposition leader Kem Sokha to be dropped and for him to be released from “restricted detention”.