Police in Kratie province on Sunday arrested a farmer—accused of trying to squat on a new social land concession for poor families—after he allegedly struck the officers when they arrived to tell him and his wife to leave.
Say Yim, 65, and his wife are among a group of families that authorities accuse of trying to illegally settle on a social land concession the government established in Chhlong district’s Broma village in 2013 for about 1,000 poor families.
Deputy provincial Governor Khan Chamnan said a fight broke out when the province’s social affairs director arrived Sunday morning with a few police officers to ask the couple to leave. He said the wife hit the officers, who hit her back and knocked her unconscious, and that Mr. Yim joined in the fracas.
Mr. Chamnan said Mr. Yim was not arrested until that afternoon, however, when he went to check on his wife at the provincial hospital.
“We arrested the man because he used violence against the authorities when he was ordered to leave the social land concession but refused,” he said.
Deputy provincial prosecutor Hak Hoan said Mr. Yim was handed to the court on Monday. “I’m now questioning him and we have not charged him yet,” he said.
According to Mr. Hoan, Mr. Yim and his wife were among 65 families that were the subject of a court complaint filed last month by 35 other families living on the concession, claiming the group was trying to settle there illegally.
Uy Phally, who is also among the 65 families and claims the right to a plot of land next to Mr. Yim’s, said he witnessed the fight and that Mr. Yim did not throw any punches.
He said he believed the authorities had targeted Mr. Yim’s wife because she helped lead a protest when bulldozers arrived in May to clear part of the concession.
“I think the land dispute was the reason for the arrest because his wife is a representative for the villagers who recently protested against the provincial authorities,” he said.