One of the men accused of leading a violent protest against police over a land dispute in Battambang province last month was arrested and charged by the provincial court on Wednesday with four crimes related to the protest.
Provincial prosecutor Nuon San said that 35-year-old Nhet Pheap was charged Wednesday with intentional violence, aggravated theft, intentional destruction and impeding police operations after at least one police officer was injured during a violent standoff with about 50 villagers in Bavel district on Dec 6.
“Right now, the suspect is being held in pretrial detention in Battambang,” he said, adding that the court on Dec 13 had issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Pheap and nine others , who are still at large.
Battambang provincial deputy police chief Chet Vanny said the suspect was arrested in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district while visiting his father.
He said that during the protest in Ampil Pram Doeum commune, the 10 suspects managed to disarm three police officers and refused to return the guns despite repeated requests to do so.
“It was illegal, and now we have arrested one of them,” he said. “I am responsible to implement the rule of law. I have an order…. I will follow it.”
On the day of the protest, land officials and roughly 30 police officers came to the commune to measure land belonging to the villagers that would be given to disabled war veterans as part of a social land concession. The villagers used sticks, knives and axes to stop the officials from measuring their land.