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

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman