A Banteay Meanchey province deputy governor and a deputy district governor have been charged with robbery and destruction of property over the burning of two bulldozers earlier this year.
Provincial Deputy Governor Tuo Tean Te, a former Funcinpec member who joined the CPP last year, is bringing the lawsuit against the two Funcinpec officials.
According to an Oct 15 letter from Kandal Provincial Court Prosecutor Huot Vuthy to Interior Minister Sar Kheng, the two suspects, Deputy Provincial Governor Khau Chea and Luos Sorphea, deputy governor of Serei Saophoan district, were charged following a preliminary investigation.
“On July 16, Khau Chea and Luos Sorphea and about 10 other bodyguards for [Funcinpec Secretary-General] Nhiek Bun Chhay in paratrooper uniforms and armed with guns went to Tuo Tean Te’s property and forced a worker to open the door. They took out two bulldozers and burned them,” the letter read.
Heang Rithy, president of the Cambodian National Research Organization, which is representing Tuo Tean Te, said the complainant, who also resides in Kandal province, had felt it was unsafe to bring the case before a Banteay Meanchey court.
Tuo Tean Te said Monday that at the time of the incident, the compound, which had previously been Funcinpec’s district headquarters, was his as he had purchased it in 2006 from Khau Chea. The bulldozers had cost $50,000 each, he added.
Khau Chea confirmed that he had removed Tuo Tean Te’s bulldozers, but said he had done so at the orders of Nhiek Bun Chhay. He also said the property belongs to Funcinpec, not Tuo Tean Te.
“This is the party’s property. [Tuo Tean Te] wanted to take it as his own. I received orders from Nhiek Bun Chhay to remove equipment from the land. I don’t know who burnt it,” he said.
Nhiek Bun Chhay denied ordering the torching of the bulldozers.
“I ordered that the bulldozers be taken away. Someone else burned them in front of [Tuo Tean Te’s] house,” he said, suggesting that Tuo Tean Te had done so himself in order to cause trouble for Funcinpec.