Villagers Demand Justice After Violent Clash

More than 200 families in Ban­teay Meanchey province is­sued a letter to provincial and O’Chrou district authorities Mon­day, asking for justice after police shot a villager in a violent clash over land, officials said Tuesday.

Approximately 10 villagers armed with axes and knives fought with police Sunday over land that they say an un­known company stole from them two months ago. Villager Peng Sa­vuth was wounded in the leg, while police officer Chay Sam Ang was struck in the waist with an ax.

Keo Sen, O’Chrou district governor, said he received the letter from 219 families asking for the government to pay for Peng Sa­vuth’s medical treatment and for his assailant to be punished.

“Police are investigating this case,” he said. “It will be sent to court because both sides were in­jured. Only the court can decide on this.”

He said the land rightfully be­longed to the villagers, whom district and provincial authorities evacuated from a railway station in Poipet commune in 2000 and resettled in the disputed area.

Pao Sidorn, deputy police chief of Banteay Meanchey, said police were in the wrong. “The people did not have guns, and the police have guns—but they are not for shooting people,” he said. “Police are working on this matter to find justice for both sides.”

Meanwhile, he said Peng Sa­vuth and Chay Sam Ang are sharing a room at Mongkol Borey District Hospital.

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