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Villagers face court over ELC protest

The office of a rubber plantation company in Preah Vihear after being destroyed by protesters in June. Nine villagers have been summoned to court over their alleged involvement in the incident.
The office of a rubber plantation company in Preah Vihear after being destroyed by protesters in June. Nine villagers have been summoned to court over their alleged involvement in the incident. Photo supplied

Villagers face court over ELC protest

The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has ordered nine villagers to appear on Wednesday to respond to allegations that they dismantled the office of a Malaysian rubber plantation company five months ago.

The nine villagers and 300 protesters allegedly pried the wooden walls off of a building housing the Eminent Elite (Cambodia) Co Ltd office in June after the company continued clearing a road through the area over their objections.

On November 20, investigating judge Veng Muoyki issued the order for the suspects to come in or face arrest.

Pen Lam, chief of Sroyong commune, confirmed that hundreds were involved in the protest, though only nine were summoned.

Roeun Ry, one of the accused villagers, maintained yesterday that he would come to court, as would the other eight.

“I just got the warrant on Saturday, but I will go because I am not afraid of it. I will offer testimony,” he said.

The company could not yesterday be reached for comment on the issue.

The Cambodian government granted Eminent Elite a 7,359-hectare economic land concession in Kulen district in 2012, but groups of villagers claimed they had been working the land since long before that.

In November 2013, the government issued a sub-decree to cut off 1,400 hectares of the ELC to grant to villagers, but the dispute is ongoing.

According to Ry, student volunteers measured out about 300 land plots as belonging to some of the local villagers.

The provincial government later drafted land titles for the villagers, but they never received them, which villagers blamed on company interference.

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