Land Dispute Officer Freed, Faces Charges

The Interior Ministry on Wed­nesday ordered the release of a Kep Municipality police officer detained since February over a land dispute with Princess Norodom Marie Ranariddh.

Pring Pov, a police officer in Kep district, will now face criminal charges that he destroyed property on the disputed land in question, a court official said Thursday.

The Interior Ministry said last month that Pring Pov’s six-week detention without charge had been a disciplinary measure for his abuse of authority. His detention followed a dispute over a 2,500-square-meter plot of land in Kep, which the princess claims to own, but that Pring Pov’s family claim they have lived on since 1991.

Contacted by telephone, Pring Pov said he had been released Wednesday afternoon from Preah Monivong Hospital where he had been receiving treatment since March 24 for a nasal problem.

He also said his wife had been served Thursday with a summons for them both to appear at Kampot Provincial Court on April 7 and 9 on suspicion of destroying property on the disputed land.

Pring Pov said he was unaware of any property destroyed on the land but that he had recently cut down a dead coconut tree and pruned the branches of a mango tree. A barbed wire fence on the land had been destroyed 22 years ago, but Pring Pov said he was not responsible.

Contacted by telephone, Princess Marie declined to comment Thursday.

Kampot court Investigating Judge Pech Chhoeut confirmed that he had issued the summonses but said he was unfamiliar with the details of the case.

Police regulations on disciplinary measures do not specify punishments for officers. However Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said arbitrary punishments can be applied to unruly officers.

“Police have disciplines such as [being made to] stand in the sun or pull grass,” he said Thursday.

“He is a police officer and he committed an offense against police discipline by taking someone else’s land,” he added.

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