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Villagers rally against arrest

Villagers rally against arrest

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Sok Sorn (left), 74, and Thoeurn Samith, 18, plead for the release of their relative Nhil Sami at Kandal provincial court yesterday.

Nearly 100 villagers from 114 families in Kandal province protested in front of the provincial court yesterday to request the release of a villager arrested in connection with a land dispute with a former deputy provincial governor.

Khorn Kea, 30, a representative of villagers from Samrong Thom commune’s Prek Treng village in Kien Svay district, said yesterday that Nhil Sami was arrested in Phnom Penh on May 19 and charged with destroying private property.

He added that protestors had asked the court to stop issuing summons and arrest warrants for villagers embroiled in a dispute with former deputy provincial governor Prak Savuth.

“Villagers are living in fear every day after the arrest of Nhil Sami and heard that other villagers will be arrested in relation to the land dispute,” Khorn Kea said.

He added that villagers had been involved in a dispute with Prak Savuth, who is now Kratie provincial council chief, since he was awarded 46 hectares of land in Prek Treng village by the Appeal Court in 2001.

Men Maraka, provincial investigator for rights group Adhoc, claimed yesterday that provincial deputy prosecutor Vong Bunvisoth told villagers the court would not issue further arrest warrants, but that Nhil Sami could not be released.

Vong Bunvisoth could not be reached for comment. District governor Heng Thiem said yesterday that the land belonged to Prak Savuth, who also could not be reached for comment.

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