Police Promise To Find Land Dispute Billboard Vandals

Police in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadaw district said yesterday they were continuing their investigation into the destruction of billboard erected last week by Jarai ethnic minority villagers calling on Ratanakkiri Provincial Court to resolve a long-running land dispute.

O’Yadaw district police chief Ma Vichet said police were closing in on the anonymous vandals that tore down the sign last Thursday, after it was installed along National Road 78 by Kong Yu villagers who are embroiled in a land dispute with Keat Kolney, the sister of Finance Minister Keat Chhon.

“So far we received lots of signs and traces that can bring us to the arrest of the perpetrators soon,” he said, adding, “What I can tell you is that no single perpetrator will be forgiven.”

Sav Taval, deputy chief of Kong Yu village, said villagers thought there were two vandals involved in the incident, and he added police told villagers they would find the perpetrators in order “to prove police are not involved with uprooting the sign.”

Police and villagers briefly faced off on Thursday morning as officers tried to prevent villagers from installing the sign along the road, but after rights workers and reporters arrived, villagers were allowed to erect it.

On the sign, villagers asked Ratanakkiri Provincial Court to expedite their case against Keat Kolney, as the processing of their complaint that Ms Kolney tricked them out of 450 hectares of land had been stalled since December 2007. Three judges resigned from the case, and currently no judge has been appointed to investigate the complaint.

Provincial Court president Lou Sou Sambath said he was unable to assign a judge to the case because judges are “too scared” to handle it. “I can confirm there is no fourth judge appointed to work on this case yet,” he said, adding he also did not know who Ms Keat Kolney’s attorney was.

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