Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Preah Vihear villagers summoned to court for ‘detaining’ bulldozer

Preah Vihear villagers summoned to court for ‘detaining’ bulldozer

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Villagers seize bulldozers operated by the Lan Feng and Ruy Feng companies that were clearing the land in dispute with the community in 2014. adhoc

Preah Vihear villagers summoned to court for ‘detaining’ bulldozer

An investigative judge at the Preah Vihear provincial court warned that he would issue arrest warrants for two NGO staff and about 10 Kuoy indigenous villagers in relation to a land dispute with two companies if they failed to appear in court on Wednesday.

In a summons dated September 27, Judge Chean Sros summoned Poek Sophorn and Lut Sang, both employees of the Ponlok Khmer NGO based in Preah Vihear, to appear in court on November 14 for questioning concerning a charge of “arrest, detention, and unlawful confinement”.

“The individuals must bring along documents related to the case if they possess them. [If they decline] to appear at the above-mentioned date, we will issue an arrest warrant,” read the summon letters dated September 27 which villagers only received on Saturday.

On Sunday, Poek Sophorn said that back in December 2014, some 300 villagers stopped about six bulldozers operated by the Lan Feng and Ruy Feng companies that were clearing the land in dispute with the villagers.

The villagers held the drivers and two of the bulldozers for a night before the authority brought them and the vehicles to the Brame commune hall, before taking the drivers away.

“At that time, I went to monitor the matter in case the villagers wanted to set fire to the bulldozers. About 2km from the village, we saw the authorities, companies’ representatives and a prosecutor stop and take photos of us."

“They saw me and Lut Sang and took photos of us. Then I left for my workplace because it was already late afternoon,” Sophorn said.

He said the court had already summoned villagers and him once in mid-2015 and some villagers had appeared in court already. However, he did not appear because his name was written wrongly. He said he also returned the summons this time as his name was still wrong.

Lor Chann, an Adhoc coordinator in Preah Vihear, said on Sunday that 10 villagers were accused of illegal detention and confinement and two Ponlok Khmer NGO staff members were accused of being accomplices.

However, Chann believed that the 12 accused did not commit the crime of which they have been accused.

“They kept the bulldozers at the commune hall, but the companies sued them for illegally confining people and the bulldozers. The bulldozer drivers did not leave because they feared the villagers would burn the vehicles."

“The people did not confine the drivers because they did not block them from leaving or put them in a room or at any place. The fact is that the drivers were in an open space. They could go anywhere they wanted to, but they stayed there to protect their bulldozers,” he said.

Chann said some people had tried to stop the bulldozers several times before they eventually decided to seize them and seek a solution from the authority.

The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) said in a statement on Saturday that the two bulldozers were given back to their owners last year.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10