The statement put out by the Kratie provincial prosecutor on March 10 states that his investigation into Thursday’s (March8) violent clash between villagers and armed forces led to no deaths. It made clear that media reports of six fatalities and 40 injured are untrue.
These erroneous casualty figures were printed in the Phnom Penh Post, and former CNRP president Sam Rainsy posted condolences for the six dead on Facebook.
In the aftermath of the altercation authorities reported two injured villagers but no deaths, and ADHOC officials confirmed this. Poeng Vin, the Pi Thnou commune chief in Snuol district also denied there being any deaths.
The confrontation started when about 100 officials and representatives from the Memot Rubber Plantation Company attempted to tear down 10 huts being built by the villagers on land that the company claimed is theirs.
According to the prosecutor’s statement, he and the police looked into the reports from local media outlets and Radio Free Asia (RFA) claiming that six people were shot dead and 40 injured in the clash with armed forces.
He questioned Tin Sopheak, who was interviewed by RFA on the night of the incident. In the interview she said that she saw six men shot death and more than 40 villagers injured in the clash, adding that the armed forces started the violence and injured her as well.
“Tin Sopheak confirmed in front of prosecutor that the interview given to RFA on Thursday … is untrue,” read the statement. She regrets spreading disinformation and asserts that she was talked into doing so by a Mr Eng. She claims he gave her RFA’s phone number and told her what to do and what to tell the media.
In the video footage of the prosecutor questioning Ms Sopheak, she said that Mr Eng and RFA are behind the false information. “They said that I had to step forward. If I do not, we [the villagers]will not succeed and get the land,” and that Mr Eng called her and told her to get information from villagers about the situation, and instructing her to call RFA.
Later, four unknown men came to her house and told her that there were six death and more than 40 injured, and told her to report to RFA. “… they told me what to say … and about three minutes later, RFA called me. I only told RFA what Mr Eng and those four men instructed me to say.”