Kompong Speu provincial Governor Chap Nhalyvouth on Tuesday urged more than 100 villagers who fled to the hills in Baset district last week after they kidnapped their commune chief to come out of hiding. But he warned that four of them will be arrested.
The four are not wanted for their possible involvement in the May 4 kidnapping, to which police are prepared to turn a blind eye, he said.
Instead, they are wanted for allegedly illegally occupying the disputed 0.8-hectareplot of land that helped prompt the kidnapping of commune Chief Meas Samon, Chap Nhalyvouth said.
Hundreds of villagers believed to have been involved in the kidnapping fled to the Phnom Srang range about 1 km behind Trapeang Kak village following a May 5 police raid that freed their hostage.
“The [arrest] warrant requires only four villagers,” Chap Nhalyvouth said. “I would like to tell [the others] not to worry. The province has no plans to arrest them.”
He added that he hoped the villagers will not resort to similar kidnappings in future.
He did not name the four men, or say why police were not seeking anyone for the kidnapping.
Sok Phal, deputy national police commissioner, said Tuesday that he had not received enough information to comment on the case.
Opposition leader Son Chhay visited the village Tuesday morning to meet with the families of the men in hiding and the provincial authorities.
Son Chhay said he believed police may have exaggerated their account of the kidnapping.
“It seems to me the commune chief was kidnapped by a handful of women and children,” Son Chhay said.
“These people are isolated, and they never have the ability to solve their problems through law,” he added.
Son Chhay said he advised Meas Samon not to alienate his constituents.
“[I] told him to be careful because these people will control your future,” in the commune elections, Son Chhay said.