A Buddhist layman in Preah Vihear arrested on Monday and accused of spying for Thailand has been transferred to Phnom Penh for further investigation.
Preah Vihear provincial police chief Mao Pov said Toeun Pheap, 33, was accused of two crimes. “He entered a military base dishonestly and he collected military information, which damages our national defence,” he said.
Police said on Monday that Toeun Pheap was arrested after recording licence plate numbers of military vehicles parked at Svay Chrum pagoda.
Sao Yath, representative for villagers in Svay Chrum village, said that at his request, Toeun Pheap wrote down the number of the car used to remove a Buddhist statue from the pagoda.
He said the provocation was related to the authority’s order to local villagers in early January to leave their houses.
Svay Chrum pagoda, located near the Preah Vihear temple complex, was serving as a temporary depot for RCAF tanks, personnel carriers and military lorries.
Thoeun Pheap has been part of an ongoing protest involving more than 200 families in Svay Chum village to stop military and police efforts to dismantle their homes to clear the land for Preah Vihear National Authority and UNESCO offices.
Hor Neat, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said more than 100 soldiers, military police, police and officials were involved in a January 18 effort to forcefully remove villagers from the designated area, located 12 kilometres from the disputed area adjoining Preah Vihear temple.
Sao Yath said yesterday he had gone into hiding.
“I am accused of being a traitor and taking information about RCAF’s vehicles for Thailand,” he said.