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Judge fingers soldiers for "90%" of murders

Judge fingers soldiers for "90%" of murders

B ATTAMBANG - The vast majority of murders in this province appear to be

committed by government soldiers - and they don't like being caught - according

to Chief Judge Nil Non.

The judge said last week he was a target for

irate soldiers who did not like his attempts to investigate their

colleagues.

On Saturday July 15, a military jeep tried to ram his car off

a Battambang road - the fourth such incident he had faced since he became Chief

Judge of Battambang Court early last year.

He believed the latest attempt

was related to his recent imprisoning of five soldiers, and issuing of warrants

for ten others, for suspected crimes.

They included the murder of a

policeman for his motorbike, an armed robbery at a Battambang market and thefts

from an NGO office.

The judge estimated that 90 per cent of the murders

brought to the court's attention were committed by government soldiers, or at

least "people in [government] military uniforms carrying guns".

"This is

a serious problem. Many of the murders here are committed by

soldiers.

"We are also facing a problem with soldiers putting pressure on

the court. The military say I am a hard-liner and I am always against the

soldiers."

He said his car was hit three times last year, or nearly hit,

by military-type vehicles trying to ram him.

In the latest incident this

month, he braked suddenly to avoid a jeep driven at high speed toward

him.

"I was very scared because my children were also in my

car."

Non said he had been offered six police bodyguards, providing he

paid them 1,000 riels each a day, which he could not afford.

"I don't

have any security but I live close to the military police commander and the

police commander here, and they help me.

"Sometimes the military police

help protect me. They follow me when I go out to eat, to watch over

me."

Non, a former Phnom Penh Faculty of Law instructor sent to

Battambang court early last year, said there were 1,000 unresolved murder cases

on the books when he arrived.

There had been another 700 since then,

which he was working his way through.

He said much of the province's

crime occurred in rural districts, particularly Mong Russey, Banan and Ek Phnom,

where fighting with the Khmer Rouge was common.

Much, he believed, was

committed by soldiers who then blamed the Khmer Rouge.

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