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11 Summoned to Court Over Mining Row

Preah Vihear provincial court authorities have summoned eight hill tribe representatives and three police officials to explain how a local mining operation was robbed during a demonstration last month.

The mineral company has sued local villagers, of the Kuoy ethnic group, for theft and damaged property.

About 200 Kuoy villagers demonstrated against the mine on Jan. 23, fearing that chemicals from the mine had poisoned their cattle, officials said.

In an ensuing fracas, equipment from the mine was stolen and some of its chemicals were destroyed, the company claims.

Sam Chheng, a Kuoy representative, said he and the other accused will appear in court Wednesday.

Chhim Savuth, an investigator for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said local villagers reported poisonous chemicals to authorities many times but were ignored, leading them to demonstrate.

Villagers accused local officials of collaborating with the mining company.

Rovieng Police Chief Sin Than said the mining company was to blame for all the trouble and had sued authorities for damages as well.

He echoed concerns of the Kuoy villagers that he would be arrested after his appearance at court Wednesday.