Man Jailed Over Land Dispute Protest Released

An ethnic Kreung man jailed last week for setting fire to a timber cache on disputed land in Ratanakkiri province was released on bail Thursday. The man, Haing Noeu, 50, was arrested on Friday for leading a group of villagers to set fire to wood.

The logs were piled on land that the Kreung community sold to a businessman in 2007, but claims it was never paid for. On Saturday, he was charged with property destruction.

On Monday, the community staged a protest outside the provincial court for his release.

“We allowed him to be released on bail because this is not a criminal case, but we will require him to show his face at the court every month during the course of the six-month investigation,” said provincial deputy prosecutor Rous Saram.

Chhay Thy, an investigator for rights group Adhoc based in Ratanakkiri, said that Mr. Noeu should not have been arrested in the first place.

“This is just a trick of the court to warn other villagers to stop their protests demanding their land,” he said.

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