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Ratanakkiri activist tells court of illegal police search

Ratanakkiri activist tells court of illegal police search

AN activist for a local rights group appeared at Ratanakkiri provincial court yesterday to answer questions concerning allegations he made in 2007 against two police officials, who he said searched his house without a court warrant.

Chhay Thy, a provincial investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said he originally filed the complaint against Banlung deputy police chiefs Puth Savy and Ma Buntung on December 25, 2007. He accused the pair of violating his rights when they searched his home without a warrant while he was away on December 19 of that year.

Chhay Thy said that at the time of the search, he was participating in a demonstration with about 100 ethnic minority villagers from Ratanakkiri who were demanding local authorities abide by a government order to stop clearing their communal land.

Although more than two years have passed since he originally filed the complaint, Chhay Thy said that yesterday marked the first time he had appeared in court to answer questions in the case. He added that he would request compensation equal to US$954 from the two police officials.

“Even though the court took a long time to investigate this case, my client and I were willing to wait,” said Long Lun, Chhay Thy’s lawyer.

When contacted yesterday, Ma Buntung denied the allegations against him.

“Puth Savy and I did not search Chhay Thy’s house,” he said. “We just went there to ask for some drinking water and also to provide safety for all of the villagers’ motorbikes which were parked outside Chhay Thy’s house during the demonstration,” he said.

He said that he and Puth Savy had appeared in court on June 8 to answer questions related to the case.

“We will fight with Chhay Thy in a legal way. We are not frightened because we did not do anything wrong,” he said.

Ros Saram, Ratanakkiri deputy prosecutor, said he would issue another summons order for the accused police officers next week, and added that the delay in the investigation had been due to lack of human resources.

“In 2007, we only had one prosecutor so we could not investigate all the cases in the province,” he said.

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