Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Land fight prisoners released in Kampot

Land fight prisoners released in Kampot

Land fight prisoners released in Kampot

FOUR villagers suspected of robbing and damaging property in a land

dispute with military Brigade 31 have been released from a Kampot

provincial prison, a defence lawyer told the Post.

Chin Lida, a defence lawyer from the rights group Licadho, said the

Kampot provincial court dropped charges against three Chey Sina

villagers on December 15. A woman charged with damaging property was

sentenced to six months but released Tuesday after finishing her term.

"All suspects involved with the land dispute case are now free," Chin

Lida said Wednesday. "They should have been released because they were

innocent."

Nhek Chantha, 52; Vong Ma, 46; Moeu Sopheak, 19; and Noeu Kak-Kada, 18,

were arrested and incarcerated on June 23 after protesting the seizure

of their land by Brigade 31.

Nhek Chanthol, daughter of Nhek Chantha, confirmed that her mother

returned home and said the court should not have detained her.

"She spent six months in prison without being found guilty," she said. "She should have been released a long time ago."

Sun Saroeun, the commander of Brigade 31, told the Post that the

villagers could return home and make a living as they did before. He

placed the blame for the dispute on seditious ringleaders.

"If they recognized their mistakes, then they should be released," Sun

Saroeun said Wednesday. "I do not want them to be in jail, but they

need to stop listening to others' provocation."  

Presiding Judge Pech Chhoeurt, who ordered the release, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

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