Dead Villagers Face Fresh Charges in Poipet

Five villagers killed by police and military police during a bloody evic­tion in Poipet earlier this year have been charged with physical as­­­sault against police officers, officials said Wednesday.

The villagers were gunned down on March 21 when police and military police surrounded a con­tested 6-hectare plot of land in Kbal Spean village with an order to evict 218 families.

One military police officer was re­portedly stabbed during the confrontation with villagers who had arm­ed themselves with farm implements, knives and stones.

“The villagers are charged with at­tacking the police and military po­lice,” said Yam Yet, chief prosecutor of Battambang provincial court, where the case has been trans­ferred.

“This charge also includes the dead villagers. The charge was made in order to investigate whether they are guilty or not,” he said of the de­ceased. “The verdict will be dissolved against them if they are found guilty, because they are dead.”

In April, Yam Yet said more than 100 police and military police officers had been charged with intentional killing related to the five dead vil­lagers. On Wednesday, however, he said he did not know speci­fics of the charges or who had been charged.

Nuon Sochea, an Adhoc lawyer rep­resenting some of the villagers, said 55 villagers have been charg­ed with physical assault while 63 po­lice and military police and one ci­vilian have been charged with in­tentional killing.

“The prosecutor charged the villagers, including the dead villagers, be­­cause he did it by looking at re­ports” on the case, she said Wed­nes­day. “He didn’t consider carefully.”

Three police officers and the one ci­vilian charged in the villagers’ deaths have been arrested and de­tained.

Kbal Spean village representative Chey Sophat said villagers were disappointed by the charges against their dead neighbors.

“This is injustice because the au­thorities shot the villagers to death, and now they even charge the villagers,” he said.

Lao Mong Hay of the Center for So­cial Development said it was un­lawful to charge the dead with a crime.

“It’s a principle of the law that there are no charges against the dead,” he said. “It’s impossible.”

 

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