Soldier Said To Be Detained Over Disputed Home

Human rights workers are investigating allegations that an RCAF off­icer has been detained since March 1 at Brigade 911 paratroopers’ headquarters in Kandal prov­ince over a private property dispute.

Lieutenant Phork Sambath, 39, was allegedly arrested two weeks ago by more senior paratroopers who demanded that he accept $3,000 in return for vacating his home in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok dis­trict, Cambodian Center for Hu­man Rights investigator Chun So­cheat said Wednesday.

The house belongs to Phork Sam­­bath’s uncle, Srey Vath, a US resident, who earlier this year ac­cused his nephew of trying to claim ownership of the home.

Srey Vath allegedly took the dispute to his nephew’s commanding of­ficer, Major-General Chap Pheak­dei, and Phork Sam­bath was detained soon afterward, said Im Kanha, the wife of the incarcerated soldier. “It is a domestic dispute. Deten­tion inside the paratrooper [headquarters] is illegal,” Chun Socheat said.

Phork Sambath appears to be fac­ed with either accepting the $3,000 or continuing to be de­tained, he said, adding that the case must be taken to military Com­mander-in-Chief Ke Kim Yan.

Staff members of CCHR, Li­cad­ho, Adhoc and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have been prevented from visiting the detained officer, Chun Socheat added.

Im Kanha said she has lodged a com­plaint with Kandal Provincial Court seeking the release of her hus­­band and for charges to be brought against 911 Commander Chap Pheakdei.

“I want them to release my husband,” Im Kanha said. She denied that her husband had conspired to gain ownership of his uncle’s house, where they had been allow­ed to live for free since 2001.

Chap Pheakdei could not be reach­ed for comment on Wed­nes­day. Suos Chamroeun, chief of 911’s Bureau II, confirmed that Phork Sambath was in detention but de­clined to specify the reason. He de­nied the punishment was over disputed property.

“He violated the internal rules of the unit,” Suos Chamroeun said, adding that the detainee was frequently absent from his post.

Kandal Court’s Chief Prosecutor Huot Vuthy said he was investigating and declined further comment.

 

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