June 22, 2018

Preah Sihanouk governor wants court to grant bail to four land protesters

The Preah Sihanouk provincial governor has sent a request to the provincial court to review and consider granting bail to four villagers who were arrested during a land dispute protest last month in order to appease protestors at his office.

According to a letter signed by Governor Yun Min and addressed to the provincial court, villagers Lux Touch, Kao Heng, Nhanh Cheat and Men Khen were jailed by the provincial court on May 8 over destruction of property.

The four were among protestors locked in a land dispute with a major transportation company operating in the province. They were arrested for destruction of property and have been in lock up ever since.

However, other villagers locked in the same land dispute submitted a letter demanding the release of their comrades and began rallying in front of Mr Min’s office.

Mr Min said that the court decided to detain the four temporarily for the maximum duration of three months, noting that the four have only been detained for one month.

He said that he has contacted court officials regarding granting the villagers bail but has not received a reply.

“I asked if it’s possible for the prosecutor and director of the provincial court to look into the possibility of granting the villagers bail prior to July 7, as it is the day election campaigning will begin,” Mr Min said.

Sok Kalyan, director of Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court and Lim Bun Heng, the court spokesman, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

However, Yim Bunnareth, the court’s head of administration, said that he has not received anything from the governor.

“Investigating is a task for the investigating judge in the case, so I do not know how it is going,” Mr Bunnareth said.

Sun Sophat, head of the community affected by the land conflict, said that he thanked the provincial administration in helping to intervene.

“I hope to have a resolution soon, but if there is no release of the four, people from other communities across the province will come to rally in front of the Provincial Hall,” Mr Sophat said.

About 46 families are locked in a land dispute case with the transportation company over 84 hectares of land.

Then Savoeun, general-secretary of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community, said that he supports the governor’s decision to intervene on behalf of the villagers.

“We support this great action and hope that the provincial court will release the people on bail so that they can resolve their dispute,” he said.

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