‘Donations’ To Free Teacher Were Forced: Officials

The Ratanakkiri provincial education department has so far collected $1,000 toward the bail of a teacher jailed in February for al­legedly burning down property on a plot of disputed land, education officials said Wednesday.

Provincial education department Director Phan Phirun claimed that 400 out of 700 education officials in the province have volunteered to contribute portions of their salary toward bail for Yeak Lom commune schoolmaster Chhoeun Ampoeul.

But some education officials complained that money was de­ducted from their pay without their consent.

Chhoeun Ampoeul was jailed along with CPP commune chief Byang Beb on Feb 19 for allegedly destroying a private dwelling on land they claim is part of Yeak Lom Primary School in Banlung district.

Provincial court Judge An Sam­nang set bail for the two men at $3,250 in early March. But after the wives of the jailed men alleged that An Samnang was asking for a bribe, An Samnang decided to no longer grant bail.

The two wives protested the de­cision to deny bail and have lodged a complaint to the Appeals Court.

On Wednesday, An Samnang said that he cannot make a decision on bail until the Appeals Court issues a verdict.

The education department is raising money just “in case” the court decides to grant bail, Phan Phirun said. If the Appeals Court denies bail, the money will be returned, he added.

Khim Sarun, deputy schoolmaster at Hun Sen Yeak Lom primary school, said Wednesday that $2.50 was deducted from his five-month incentive stipend of $62.50 without his consent.

“I kept quiet because those jailed men have been our workmates for many years,” he said. “But I am afraid the money will not be used for helping the school master.”

A teacher at Banlung district’s Samdech Euv Samdech Me high school said that he was ordered by district education officials to sign a receipt on Friday stating that he had received $62.50, when he had in fact received only $60.

“Such a deduction is not acceptable and is illegal,” he said.

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said that he had received many verbal complaints from teachers about the deductions.


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