Three Jailed for Clearing State Land Released

Three villagers arrested for clearing state land to cultivate banana trees in Kompong Thom province have been released on bail, but remain under judicial supervision, according to a court document obtained Monday.

Siblings Kheang Sokleang, 26, and Kheang Sokleab, 23, along with Ms. Sokleab’s husband, Chang Bunthoeun, 36, were arrested on Friday in Santuk district following a complaint by local forestry officials that they were encroaching on protected state forest.

“The case file has not yet been fully investigated, but the court has decided not to detain the accused,” said a court order signed by Investigating Judge Iv Borin on Sunday.

It added that the three could not leave the area without court permission, needed to report to police once a month and were required to respond to any summonses by the court.

A day after his release, Mr. Bunthoeun claimed innocence, saying the land he was accused of clearing actually belonged to his father-in-law.

“It was an injustice to me because I did not do what they accused me of. It was not my land,” Mr. Bunthoeun said.

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