An NGO worker and six Kuoy ethnic community members from Brame commune in Preah Vihear province’s Tbeng Meanchey district requested on Wednesday a delay of their court hearing over a land dispute dating to 2014.
At least two officials from the NGO Ponlok Khmer and eight Kuoy ethnic community members were sued in 2015 after they allegedly seized two bulldozers in a land dispute with the company, Lan Feng, in December 2014.
Investigating judge Chean Sros summoned them to appear in court on Wednesday on charges of “unlawful arrest, detention, and confinement” under Article 253 of the Criminal Code.
One of the NGO employees, Poek Sophorn, said on Wednesday that he had not received the summons.
“[My colleague] Lut Sang and the six community members requested a delay, but I didn’t because I haven’t received a summons,” he said.
Phon Rom, one of the defendants, said on Wednesday that the Kuoy community members requested a delay because they were busy with rice harvesting.
“We did not detain the [company’s] drivers. We just stopped their bulldozers because they destroyed our land. Police said nine community members were sued, but only seven of us have received the summons.
“We are busy with rice harvesting. When we seized the bulldozers, it was not me alone but the whole Brame community. If I go to court, the whole community must go together because the land belonged to the whole community,” he said.
Provincial court spokesperson Chum Kaniya on Wednesday confirmed that the villagers’ request had reached the investigating judge.