Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

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Phnom Phen Post| 9 July 2020

Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

by Long Kimmarita

The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Photo: Facebook

The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014.

Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight were accused of detention and illegal confinement.

Defence lawyer Sam Tithseyha told The Post on Thursday it was the right decision because they are the victims and this decision shows their innocence as they are not guilty of the charges and have good names in society.

He said the court’s decision is a sign of a reformed system that delivers justice.

“The decision to let my clients go free is appreciated, and I suggest it serve as a model to all other provincial and municipal courts to keep as an example to find the truth in land conflicts between citizens and powerful men and companies,” he said.

In 2014, many citizens living at the Boss Thom village, Brame commune, Tbeng Meanchey district were having land conflicts with Heng Fu and two company bulldozers were allegedly seized.

After this happened, 16 citizens, including 14 ethnic Kuoy villagers, were accused of detention and illegal confinement.

One official from the Ponlok Khmer NGO was accused of conspiracy following a complaint from the bulldozer drivers of the Chinese company.

As the lawsuit and protests dragged on, the official and some citizens had their charges dropped by the court, Adhoc coordinator Lor Chan in Preah Vihear province told The Post.

Chan called Wednesday’s final decision good news for the community and the accused.

Original source: Phnom Penh Post
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