Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Manhunt for ringleaders of Preah Sihanouk land dispute clash




Manhunt for ringleaders of Preah Sihanouk land dispute clash

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ream National Park rangers in cooperation with Prey Nop district forces and provincial Military Police demolished cottages that were illegally built to grab land in the protectednatural area, in the west of Ream commune’s Smach Deng village. Photo supplied

Manhunt for ringleaders of Preah Sihanouk land dispute clash

Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities on Sunday warned of legal action against the ringleaders and accomplices behind clashes between police and residents on Friday, which saw three people injured and three others detained for questioning.

On Friday, Ream National Park rangers in cooperation with Prey Nop district forces and provincial Military Police demolished cottages that were illegally built to grab land in the protected natural area, in the west of Ream commune’s Smach Deng village.

A report from the provincial administration said while the joint forces were demolishing three of the cottages, a mob of more than 100 people attacked them with molotov cocktails, wooden sticks, knives and slingshots.

The report said two commune security guards sustained serious injuries while three police officers were slightly injured in the mob attack.

The provincial administration said the authorities were working to determine the identities of the ringleaders and their accomplices and would bring them to justice without any exception.

“Those who had been cheated into illegally logging, clearing, burning and bulldozing the forest for ownership are advised to withdraw immediately,” the administration said in a statement.

Citing Articles 56 and 62 of the Law on Natural Resource Protection, it said the crimes carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to 150 million riel (about $37,000).

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that district authorities initially detained 17 people for questioning after the clashes but released 14 of them.

“Those not involved in the case were allowed to return home. The other three are still being held for questioning, but I have yet to be updated on further action,” he said.

Phearum said the district authorities will continue to demolish illegally built cottages to protect the conservation area.

Prey Nop district police chief Huor Yai could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc Cheap Sotheary said the authorities should have sought a peaceful solution as to whether the land was illegally occupied or otherwise.

“We don’t want to see such confrontations. Though the residents have built houses there, they should have been informed and peacefully summoned for questioning. They have already spent much money to build the houses,” she said.

Sotheary claimed that some residents had lived on the land since 2000. So far, she said more than 100 families had settled in the area before it was given to a private company for investment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Vietnam: Tougher sentences for child abusers

    Several National Assembly (NA) deputies in Vietnam are calling for tougher penalties to be handed down to child abusers. They hope stricter punishments will act as a strong deterrent to prevent offenders committing further offences in the future. Extreme measures such as chemical castration were

  • Central bank to shun small US banknotes

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is considering not accepting smaller denominated US dollar banknotes – $1, $2 and $5 – from banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs) which it said are flooding its stockpile as the demand for those notes is low. While some banking insiders welcomed the move as

  • PM lauded in Covid-19 fight

    World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen thanking him for following the WHO’s guidance and commending Cambodia’s efforts in the fight against Covid-19. In his letter made public by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Workers return, hope for salaries

    More than 600 factory workers in the capital’s Chaom Chao commune in Por Sen Chey district returned to work after the factory’s owner promised to pay their salaries in instalments until the middle of next month. On Tuesday and Wednesday, more than 600 workers gathered

  • Women detained for forcing kids to beg

    Two women were sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday for forcing six children to beg for money for several months at the Chhouk Meas market in Krang Thnong commune in the capital’s Sen Sok district. Phnom Penh Department of Anti-human Trafficking and

  • Vietnamese tents baffle border guards

    Kandal and Takeo provincial authorities bordering Vietnam have expressed concern after witnessing irregularities by the Vietnamese authorities, including the deployment of soldiers to erect 114 camps just 30m from the border. Takeo provincial governor Ouch Phea told The Post on Thursday that Vietnamese soldiers had erected 83