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Locked-up villagers set off protests

Locked-up villagers set off protests

More than 100 villagers protested in front of Banan district hall in Battambang province yesterday, demanding the release of six villagers who were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly accepting money to illegally divide state land.

The six suspects have been accused of advertising land and then defrauding settlers that migrated to the area after Prime Minister Hun Sen announced a nationwide land-titling scheme in June 14.

Hun Ty, the 57-year-old wife of the alleged mastermind of the scheme, Khoeun Sareth, 59, said her husband and the four others were invited to a “meeting” in Banan district on Wednesday that they never came back from.

“Authorities sold the land by themselves and they were afraid of when the volunteering youths came to measure land for villagers – they accused my husband of having sold villagers’ land and inciting villagers to grab state land illegally.”

Volunteer students have been dispatched nationwide to help implement the land- titling scheme.

Ty said the villagers were embroiled in a long-running land dispute with commune authorities who kept selling their land.

Dy Vuth, 39, Riem Roun, 45, Chhouy Sin, 52, Chhnam Serei Sa Men, 38 and Yim Virak, 42, all from Korokar village in Dounba commune were all arrested as well.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]

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