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Election Official Arrested in Land Dispute

A national election official was arrested and questioned by the court Thursday in a continuing land dispute in the coastal town of Sihanoukville, officials said Thursday.

Saum Solida, an adviser to the secretary-general of the National Election Committee, was arrested with his wife and a land broker Wednesday.

They were brought to Sihanoukville Municipal Court Thursday for questioning and are being detained at military police headquarters, human rights officials said.

They are accused of land theft from Evergreen, a development company, officials said.

Evergreen has received a letter from the national government to develop 54 hectares of coastal beach, but Saum Solida had purchased a parcel of the land from four private residents, said Pot Samon, an investigator for the rights group Licadho.

Sihanoukville has become a hotbed of tourism development. The boom has brought with it a rash of land conflicts, some of them violent.