Company Denies Filling Stream in Pursat Province

A representative of the Pursat province-based Ratanak Visal company on Monday denied Krakor district villagers’ long-standing allegations that their stream had been filled with dirt by the firm, depriving them of water.

Sok Sophea, the firm’s farm manager, said the company has filed a complaint in provincial court asking that three villagers charged with inciting a demonstration against the firm be punished.

“The company did not fill in the [stream]. We only constructed a…dam to store water,” he said.

Kuch Veng, Hong Kil and Mean Samnang were charged with incitement in December, he added.

Kong Bin, provincial court prosecutor, said the three were charged after they refused to attend questioning at the court.

The three, who are not in detention, have previously been summoned for questioning over the alleged incitement of a demonstration, in which 300 people took part.

Kuch Veng denied inciting villagers, saying he had only educated people on the importance of natural resources.

Hong Kil similarly denied the charges, saying villagers had pro­tested of their own accord because they had lost access to water.

Sok Sophea said that the dam could benefit both the company and local people and had been built with the consent of villagers, adding that the lack of water this year was due to drought.

Ham Sunrith, a lawyer with local rights group Licadho, said the charges are unacceptable because the prosecutor has not spoken with the three villagers.

 

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