Village Representative Arrested in Land Dispute

A village representative in Kompong Speu province was arrested on Wednesday and another summoned to appear in court over allegations they committed violence and caused damage during a long-running land dispute with a military officer, court officials said on Thursday.

“Those people went to take out the border markers and used slingshots to shoot at the land owner,” said provincial Judge Chhim Ritthy. 

Nou Moeun, 46, has been detained in pretrial detention charged with committing intentional acts of violence and intentionally causing damage in aggravating circumstances, while Ou Rorn, 52, was summoned to court but was granted a delay in the case.

Villagers claim Touch Sopheak, a trainer in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ tank unit, in 2008 illegally grabbed 52 hectares of a 300-hectare plot of farming land in Phnom Sruoch district.

Ms. Rorn said villagers complained in 2010 after soldiers attacked villagers, destroying shelters and injuring three people, but the court took no action.

She questioned why villagers had been targeted for removing border markings.

“We have been cultivating that land since after the Khmer Rouge regime, so why is he grabbing our land without providing compensation?”

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