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No Court Action on Kidnap Suit: Officials

A court suit alleging the detention for ransom of villagers by local officials from the Ministry of Environment has seen little progress in the past week, officials said Monday.

Villagers claim Kratie provincial court officials have taken no action in a lawsuit they filed earlier this month, but the fault lies with the villagers and defendants alike, a court official said.

The court has summoned the villagers who filed the suit, as well as the defendants, but none has appeared, said court prosecutor Mork Phany.

Representatives of 54 families filed a lawsuit on June 20, alleging the kidnapping of six people and the destruction of nine houses. Villagers allege they paid between $200 to $500 per person to secure the release of the detainees, according to court documents.

Representatives of the 17 accused officials have denied the claims of kidnapping, saying the villagers live on protected forest land.

Villagers said Monday the Environment officials were still detaining people and demanding ransom.