MORE than 100 villagers protested in front of Kampong Thom provincial court yesterday, calling for the release of a villager jailed in connection with a local land dispute.
Lem Nath, a villager in Stoung district’s Trea commune was arrested on August 9 for allegedly falsifying thumbprints on a petition related to the dispute.
Villagers said yesterday that Lem Nath was arrested without cause, and that she had helped villagers protest against the sale of 300 hectares of villagers’ land to two local businessmen.
“We want to have Lem Nath released because she was arrested without reason. She has led the protest against land-grabbing,” said villager Lanh Phan, who claims to have lost 1 hectare of land to the men.
“If they want to arrest her, they must arrest us all together because we are all involved.”
Choung Choungy, Lem Nath’s lawyer, said that he delivered two letters to court president Khorn Sakal and investigating judge Chum Sar yesterday, requesting the release of his client.
“I would like the court to release my client because the police have arrested her without a warrant of arrest, violating the law. Based on the law it is not enough to detain her,” he said.
When contacted yesterday, court President Khorn Sakal said that he would deliver the letter to the investigating judge but that he could not force him to release Lem Nath.
“We must understand that the judge is independent. I cannot interfere in his case,” Khorn Sakal said.