Search Continues for Suspected Land-Grabbers

Kompong Speu police said  Sun­day they are continuing the search for two men accused of grabbing land from a government official. Last week the provincial court freed a third man arrested in connection with the same case.

Chea Vuth, deputy provincial police chief, said his officers are searching for village leaders Long Sovann and Seng Borey, who have been accused by You Ay, secretary of state at the Ministry of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs, of organizing villagers to seize hundreds of hectares of her land in Phnom Sruoch district.

“I continue looking for Long Sovann and Seng Borey because court officials have not released new orders to stop the arrest,” Chea Vuth said, adding that he was disappointed that the court on Wednesday released Seng Sarath, who was arrested Aug 7 on the same charges.

Chea Vuth said he was not aware that You Ay promised all three men amnesty if they apologized to the court and signed a statement swearing not to engage in criminal behavior.

She made the promise Tues­day in negotiations with Nuth Rom­duol, a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian for Kompong Speu, after villagers staged protests in Kompong Speu and in front of the National Assembly asking for Seng Sarath’s release and proclaiming his innocence. An Aug 8 protest turned violent when au­thorities kicked and used electric batons to beat villagers who gathered in Kompong Speu town.

In following negotiations, You Ay said she would give 100 hec­tares of her land to the poorest villagers and build wells and a road.

Villagers, however, said Sunday they still have not been told of the deal. “All the villagers are not aware of any details about the agreement or any discussions be­tween You Ay and the opposition official,” Seng Sarath said Sunday.

You Ay said Sunday she intended to follow through on the agreed concessions, but was working out the details. “I would like to give this a win-win solution, the people win, also Seng Borey wins and I win,” she said Sunday.

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