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P Vihear protesters call for prosecutor’s ouster

P Vihear protesters call for prosecutor’s ouster

Some 200 protesters in Preah Vihear province demonstrated outside the home of deputy provincial prosecutor Long Sitha on Tuesday, calling for his resignation because of his alleged history of favouring companies over villagers in land disputes.

Villager representative Noun Mun, 64, yesterday said she participated in the protest because Preah Vihear residents have lost confidence in Sitha. There have been numerous occasions where he neglected villagers’ allegations of companies illegally taking land. One such case occurred in 2013 in Rovieng district, she said, when he ignored a land-grabbing complaint lodged against a company owned by tycoon Try Pheap.

“He is a court official, but he never prosecutes cases against companies when villagers have land disputes with them,” Mun said yesterday. “He has always been on the side of companies, but does not help villagers.”

Sitha could not be reached for comment yesterday, and Teang Sotha, president of the provincial court, declined to comment.

A petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Ministry of Justice demanding Sitha’s ouster garnered more than 200 thumbprints, villager representative Houn Keano, 41, said.

People in all seven districts of Preah Vihear have had issues with Sitha over the years, said Lor Chan, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc. “If we allow this person to continue in his position, villagers in the province will be very unhappy,” Chan said.

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