About thirty villagers from Battambang province’s Ratanak Mondol district stormed the provincial court on Monday evening to free two villagers who had been ordered arrested by the judge in relation to a land dispute in the area.
During the rescue attempt, Yan Kim On, one of the suspects, and Phoeun Sokhen, the brother of the second suspect, Ev Kheang were injured in a scuffle with police.
Mr. Kim On and Ms. Kheang escaped from the courtroom and are currently at large. “I and Yan Kim On went to the court to answer questions and later on, they arrested us,” said Ms. Kheang.
“About 30 villagers came to help us and tried to intervene, allowing us to run away.” Mr. Kim On and Ms. Kheang are accused of illegally residing on the land of Keo Saran, an official in the engineering department in the Ministry of Defense, and a man called Hun Sareth, who recently filed a complaint accusing the villagers of grabbing the land.
Mr. Kim On denied having grabbed the land. “I have 6.5 hectares of land and I have lived on it since 1996. In May, the village chief and the commune chief came to tell us that this land now belongs to somebody else,” he said.