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Farmer released after land dispute scuffle

Farmer released after land dispute scuffle

Military police in Kampong Cham province yesterday released a man they arrested after an alleged physical altercation with another man over a years-long land dispute in nearby Tbong Khmum province.

On Friday morning, Phun Chhoeurn, 55, had hired another man to plough land for a rice paddy on part of a 475-hectare patch in Tbong Khmum’s Dambe district. Chinese-owned Hameniven Investment and 58 local families both claim ownership of the property.

Local authorities issued an order on March 16 that neither Hameniven nor villagers could clear any land there until the dispute was resolved.

Joined by three others from Hameniven, Chinese national San Chhing Huy, 35, stopped the tractor and began an argument with Chhoeurn that escalated to violence, said Sum Sophal, 46, who drove the tractor.

“The Chinese man jumped off a motorbike and choked Phun Chhoeurn from behind,” Sophal said.

“He tried to break free, and injured the Chinese man’s eye.”

Acting on a complaint, police arrested Chhoeurn later that day, said Mean Prom Mony, a coordinator for rights group Adhoc.

Chhoeurn was released yesterday due to health problems, including high blood pressure, said Huot Vuthy, prosecutor for Kampong Cham Provincial Court, which is handling the case because Tbong Khmum lacks a functioning court.

“We will launch an immediate probe, but we do not know whether [Chhoeurn] will be charged,” Prom Mony said.

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