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Judge forces sparse settlement on family of beaten children

Judge forces sparse settlement on family of beaten children

The Ratanakkiri Provincial Court yesterday forced a family whose three children were allegedly beaten by DM Group firm employees last month to accept only $1,000 in compensation in place of the $40,000 the family initially had demanded, the children’s father claimed.

Ry Sarun, 52, said that investigating judge Eng Chamnag threatened to arrest Sarun’s two sons for allegedly injuring DM Group workers if the family did not accept the pittance, of which the judge then took $220 for himself, leaving the family members with only $780 for their troubles.       

“This is a miserable compensation but better than nothing,” Sarun said.  

In his complaint to the court, Sarun alleged that four DM group workers beat his 12-year-old daughter, 14-year-old son and 21-year-old son when the youths tried to prevent the company from bulldozing the area and planting commercial rubber trees on land that already had been measured for the family. Srun said two of his six hectares of land had already been grabbed in such a way.

The workers injured the 14-year-old, Ry Soklin, so badly in the head that he had to be sent to Vietnam for treatment, which cost the family more than $3,000, Sarun said.

Sarun said that Judge Chamnag had told him the court would hear the case against the four workers next month.

But he added that on Monday, when he visited the prison where the workers had been placed under detention after being charged by the court, he learned that the they had been released about two weeks before.

“I bribed a prison officer 25,000 riel and pretended to visit my relative in the prison,” Sarun said.

“I looked for the suspects, but I did not see them. The officer said they had been released.”

Chhay Thy, Ratanakkiri provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the court’s actions were “absolute injustice” for Sarun’s family.

An Adhoc lawyer was assisting the family, he added.

Thy said the group was looking into the release of the suspects, noting that the early release appeared highly illegal.

Judge Eng Chamnag declined to comment by phone yesterday.

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