TWO villagers due in Svay Rieng provincial court on Thursday for questioning in connection with the uprooting of demarcation poles along the Cambodia-Vietnam border have gone into hiding, a rights group official said Thursday.
Nget Nara, Svay Rieng coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the fugitives – Khon Chea, 31, and Prak Koeun, 38 – fled upon hearing that two other villagers, Meas Srey and Prom Chea, had been arrested immediately after appearing for questioning Wednesday.
A third villager scheduled for questioning Wednesday, Neang Phalla, escaped before his turn on the stand. His whereabouts remain unknown.
“We don’t know where the two villagers went. They left so quickly that they made no provisions for their children at home,” Nget Nara said.
Choeung Sarin, wife of detained villager Prom Chea, said Khon Chea and Prak Koeun fled their homes immediately after learning of her
husband’s arrest. “I don’t know where they are. I know that they disappeared from the village after the arrest of my husband,” Choeung Sarin said.
On October 25, opposition leader Sam Rainsy joined residents in uprooting six poles marking the border that he said had been illegally planted
by Vietnamese officials in an attempt to steal villagers’ farmland.
In a citation issued December 16, Judge Long Kesphyrom wrote that anyone who did not show up in court would be arrested. Long Kesphyrom could not be reached for comment Thursday.