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No lawyer for villagers charged in border row

No lawyer for villagers charged in border row

SOME Svay Rieng villagers facing charges over the removal of border markers – an incident that has also landed opposition leader Sam Rainsy in legal trouble – say they have no lawyer to defend them in court.

The villagers have been summoned to appear in court January 27 along with Sam Rainsy on charges related to the removal of the wooden markers near the border with Vietnam.

But with just over two weeks to go before the court date, relatives of two of the accused villagers say they are worried that they still have no lawyer to represent them in court.

“My husband is very worried about having no lawyer,” said Chhoeung Sarin, whose spouse, Prom Chea, is one of the accused.

My husband is very worried about having no lawyer.

Meas Prel said his sister, Meas Srey, one of the other accused, also has no lawyer.
“I have often come to visit my sister,” Meas Prel said. “I pity her so much. She doesn’t sleep well.”

Hang Chhaya, chairman of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, said his organisation might find a lawyer for the group.

Prom Chea and Meas Srey were jailed December 23 after receiving a summons to appear in court for questioning.

Three other villagers – Prak Koeun, 38, Prak Chea, 28, and Neang Phally, 39 – fled after being called for questioning and remain on the run.

All five have been accused of removing border markers during the same incident that has Sam Rainsy facing court action.

The opposition leader faces charges of racial incitement and purposefully destroying border demarcation poles after the incident in October that saw markers in Chantrea district uprooted.

The villagers claimed Vietnamese authorities were encroaching on their farmland. Vietnamese officials, however, reacted with outrage, calling the removal of the border markers “perverse”.

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