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Suspects arrested in military land dispute in Kampot to be tried

Suspects arrested in military land dispute in Kampot to be tried

FOUR villagers charged with robbery and damaging private property during a land dispute with the military's Brigade 31 in Kampot province will stand trial at the provincial court on November 19, rights monitors say, while friends and family of the accused insist that they did nothing wrong.

Chin Lida, the accused's defence lawyer from the human rights group Licadho, said that Kampot court judge Pech Chhoeut set the trial date after five months of investigation.

"I have received a letter from the court and will attend the trial," Chin Lida told the Post Monday.

Chin Lida said the four people arrested are Nhek Chantha, 52; Vong Ma, 46; Moeu Sopheak, 19; and Noeu Kak-Kada, 18. Soldiers detained them for three days at the Brigade 31 office before they were sent to the Kampot provincial prison.

On June 23, soldiers from Brigade 31 re-allotted the land of the 496 families living in Chey Sina village in Chhouk district in order to make room for 200 families who were evicted from nearby Anlong Krom.

Nhek Chanthol, daughter of one of the arrested villagers, said that each village family has owned about two or three hectares of nut trees, which were subsequently bulldozed and divided into 30m by 50m plots by Brigade 31 soldiers.

Nhek Chanthol said her mother was arrested only because she argued with soldiers posting land allotment signs that were soon pulled out by villagers. Soldiers claim that Nhek Chanta helped steal a mobile phone.

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