Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dead man ‘called to court’

A man who villagers said died more than a year ago was one of eight people summonsed to court in Kampong Speu following a protest relating to two separate land disputes last week, according to villagers.


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Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Villagers in Kampong Speu protest at the provincial court last week.
Bou Vira, Nai Savoeun, Duong Sibunthol, Lim Sokhom and Dy Mab, from Treng Trayoeng commune in Phnom Sruoch district, have been accused of defamation.

Three villagers from Thpong district’s Omlaing commune – Hak Haing Kim, Sieng Hak and Kin Gnet, whom villagers say died more than a year ago – have also been summonsed amid allegations they lied to the government about how much land they owned.

“We don’t know what the court is doing – even though one man has passed away already, the court still issued him a summons,” villager Puth Yoeun said.

“So we want to make one coffin. When the court calls his name, we will bring the coffin to the court for questioning.”

On Thursday, more than 300 villagers from Phnom Srouch and Thpong districts protested outside Kampong Speu provincial court, asking officials to explain why their land disputes were not being resolved and demanding the release of Chum Srey Noun, 49, who was detained on December 15 after being summonsed to appear in court for questioning.

Villagers in Omlaing commune are locked in a dispute over land awarded to Phnom Penh Sugar Company, while Treng Trayoeng commune villagers’ dispute began in 2006, when 160 hectares of land was granted to Farmers’ Association, an NGO.

Duong Sibunthol, a villager representative from Treng Trayoeng commune, said he didn’t know who had filed the defamation complaint, but said the villagers would attend court to avoid being arrested.

“We just protest to ask the court to explain why they have delayed answering our questions – and they have given us more court summonses.”

The court has ordered the villagers to appear on January 31 at 8:30am, and about 300 will attend without a lawyer, Duong Sibunthol said.

“We have not done anything wrong, so we do not need a lawyer. We have the ability to answer the court’s questions.”

Keo Sothea, the Kampong Speu provincial prosecutor, said he had not issued the summonses and told people “not to believe the rumours”.