Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Police arrest fugitive sought in land row

Police arrest fugitive sought in land row

Police arrest fugitive sought in land row

POLICE in Battambang province arrested a village representative on Monday night after the man and three other fugitives came out of hiding to lend support to their community in a long-running land dispute with a Phnom Penh military police official.

Nha Mak, 40, was arrested at 5.30pm by Kors Kralor district police at his home in Doun Ba commune, said Luong Sokha, a village representative.
After the arrest, police and military police forces were deployed in Doun Ba commune to prevent villagers from going to their representative’s aid, he said.

Luong Sokha said villagers were able to prevent the arrest of the other three representatives by patrolling the area with machetes and gathering the entire village to sleep overnight in a central location.

“Police and military police have threatened villagers and told us that if anyone dares to leave the village they will be arrested,” he said.

In August 2008, Nha Mak and four other villagers were sentenced in absentia to five years in prison for robbery and destruction of public property.

One villager, Hun Sengly, was arrested immediately following the verdict. The four others, including Nha Mak, went underground and did not surface until Sunday, when they helped stage a protest in Phnom Penh to draw attention to their row with Long Sidare, a military police officer.

Villagers say that since September 2008, Long Sidare has attempted to evict 415 families from 1,672 hectares of land to make way for a rubber plantation.

Van Dy, 42, one of four fugitives who returned home Monday after a two-year absence, said she feared that her arrest was imminent.

“Now I dare not live in my house or let the police see my face,” she said.

Lay Nang, Kors Kralor district police chief, said that about 10 police officers had been deployed near the village to “prevent violence” following the arrest. “But we are not trying to hunt down any other villagers,” he said.

Pour Prong, director of the Battambang provincial cabinet, said Nha Mak’s arrest was justified because of the verdict handed down in 2008.

“We have tried to find a resolution for the villagers, but they have not come to negotiate with us. Both [the villagers and Long Sidare] have taken over land that is state public property,” he said.

But Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said that local authorities had failed to make sufficient efforts to resolve the land dispute.

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • EU officials: Ending EBA an 18-month procedure

    EU officials have confirmed that it will take a total of 18 months to complete the procedure if Cambodia’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement is to be withdrawn. According to EU Agriculture and Rural Development spokesman Daniel Rosario, the formal process has not