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Four Villages Tried in Kampot Dispute

One man received six months in jail and three were released on Monday when Kampot provincial court tried four villagers accused of property destruction, following a land dispute with local military.

The four were charged following a complaint brought by officials of RCAF Division 31.

The courts sentenced Nhek Chantha, 52, to six months with time served, from June 23, and released Nov Kakda, 19, Nov Sopheak, 18 and Vong Ma, 47, all from Cheysena village in Kampot’s Chhouk district.

“We’ve already made a decision, but we don’t know if the prosecutor will file a complaint against it or not,” presiding judge Pich Chhoeut said.

The charges stem from a dispute between 313 families in the area and Division 31 over 20 hectares of land, where residents had built a center for the disabled but where the military planted posts to demark its land.

Residents removed the posts, prompting the lawsuit from Division 31 officials, who could not be reached for comment.

The rights group Adhoc, which is filing suit against a number of judges to the Supreme Council of Magistracy, has said at least 146 people were arrested nationwide in 2008 over land disputes, some of them in an abuse of power by the courts.