Villagers Questioned for Taking Drivers Hostage

Seven villagers were questioned by the Preah Vihear Provincial Court yesterday over an incident in December during which they seized two bulldozers being used to clear disputed land and took the drivers hostage.

The incident came amid a land dispute between 367 ethnic Kuoy families in Preah Vihear’s Tbeng Meanchey district and a Chinese company, Lan Feng, which was granted a 9,000-hectare concession for a sugar plantation in 2011 on land the Kuoy say they have lived on for decades.

Villagers let the two bulldozer drivers go after a day, but are still holding the machinery.

According to the summoned villagers, Lan Feng filed a complaint against them for illegal detention and attempted murder for allegedly holding knives to the drivers’ throats.

Community representative Roeung Khan said that seven villagers were questioned yesterday and another two were scheduled to be questioned Tuesday.

Phu Pheth, 35, one of those questioned, said: “The court asked why I detained the bulldozers and drivers. I told him because they had bulldozed my farmland and because we told them many times but they never listened. Therefore, we took them hostage.”

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