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Eight detained over land row

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Protesters blocked National Road 4 and used violence against authorities over a land dispute in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nop district on Friday. Photo supplied

Eight detained over land row

The Preah Sihanouk provincial court on Sunday evening ruled to detain the eight people from a 200-strong group of protesters accused of blocking National Road 4 in Prey Nop district’s Bit Traing commune and using violence against authorities over a land dispute.

Court spokesman Lim Bun Heng told The Post on Monday that the investigating judge had decided to provisionally detain the eight suspects after charging them following questioning on Sunday afternoon.

“The first offence involved them blocking the public road – an offence according to Article 80 of the Traffic Law.

“Following damage to three cars, the suspects have also been charged with intentional acts of violence with aggravating circumstances.

“The eight were charged with the same offences because their acts were of a similar nature,” Bun Heng said.

No exemption from the law

Provincial administration spokesman Kheang Phearum told The Post on Monday that authorities continue to hold firm and enforce the law without exception against any people who grab private or state land in Preah Sihanouk province.

“The authorities are continuing their pursuit of the ringleaders and perpetrators and anyone who incited the villagers to encroach on the land.

“Although for now the situation has calmed down, we are keeping an extremely watchful eye. Our forces are stationed on standby, not only in this area but also other places that face re-encroachment.

“We have to protect all villages in the province,” Phearum said.

Deputy director for Prey Nop district administration Prum Bunny headed joint security forces on Friday as they implemented a court ruling ordering the dismantling of a total of 630 cottages illegally built on land owned by others in Bit Traing commune’s Chamnot Ream village.

Bunny told The Post that authorities had now managed to bring the situation under control.

People had stopped gathering to block the road and construct cottages, he said, and authorities were searching for more suspects who used violence, as well as the group’s ringleader.

“We’ve captured the activities on camera, now we are searching for those behind them. We already have enough clues but cannot reveal anything now,” he said.

Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief Chuon Narin said that during the operation – intended to ease traffic after some 200 people took to the streets and blocked the road – six security forces, four policemen and two security personnel were wounded.

He said the protesters damaged three cars – two belonging to the district inspector and one police car – as they hurled stones at police.

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