The founder of the Cambodian Landmine Museum in Siem Reap province and his two colleagues, who were arrested and put in pre-trial detention early this month on weapons possession charges, have been released on bail.
Court spokesman Yin Srang said on Sunday that Aki Ra was freed on Thursday pending further investigation.
“The investigating judge released them on their lawyer’s bail request. The investigation is ongoing,” Yin Srang said.
Touch Lonh, a caretaker of children at the museum in Aki Ra’s absence, said the trio had returned to their home.
“They were happy as they arrived home. I have visited them once or twice, but they cannot be reached by phone now,” he said.
Lonh said the 26 children had been looked after by two organisations via the arrangement of the social affairs department since the museum’s temporary closure on August 29.
“Children stay at their organisations temporarily because we closed the museum. We let the organisations in Siem Reap province take care of them in the meantime,” he said.
The two organisations are Sun Rise Organisation and Together for Cambodia.
The museum in Banteay Srey district has yet to reopen despite Aki Ra’s release.
But Ray, a soldier who identified himself as deputy chief of the museum’s guards, said he had not received an order to stop guarding or opening the museum.
Born in 1970 and separated from his family by the Khmer Rouge at the age of five, Aki Ra fought for the many different armies that ravaged the country for nearly 35 years.
In the early 1990’s, he worked for the UN clearing landmines around Angkor Wat. Aki Ra has extracted around 50,000 mines throughout his demining career.
His ongoing court case followed a fire on the museum’s premises on August 27, after which authorities discovered old and rusty weapons in a small shed.