TWO disabled veterans from an association embroiled in a land dispute in Kratie province were arrested yesterday and charged with threatening local wildlife officials.
The two men are representatives of the Association Cripple Development, which claims around 620 member families were promised a 4,000-hectare social land concession in Kratie’s Snuol district. In April, however, officials announced that the land belonged to five private companies.
Mak Pheang, investigating judge at Kratie provincial court, said yesterday that Keo Chhit and Vong Virak had been charged with “threatening government officials” and would be held in pretrial detention pending an investigation.
“According to the complaint, the two men were ringleaders and incited about 500 people to grab land,” he said. He added that the complaint had been brought by Minister of Environment Mok Mareth, who could not be reached yesterday, and officials from the Wildlife Sanctuary Department.
If found guilty, the men face up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of about US$36, Mak Pheang added.
Chea Peng Kin, third deputy director of the Association Cripple Development, yesterday appealed to “human rights NGOs and the government” to release the two men.