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Four Men Held for Violence in Land Dispute

Preah Sihanouk provincial court ordered the detention of four men on Tuesday for allegedly inciting violence in a land dispute with a wealthy businessman.

Yos Saran, 53, Kok Bunchhoeun, 53, Soy Sokha, 39, and “Mr. Ko,” around 30, were summoned by investigating judge Svay Tonh, who decided to put them in provisional detention for committing and inciting violence.

The charges stem from a land dispute that has been running since 2007, when businessman Chhun Hour requested to the government’s National Authority for Resolution of Land Disputes that 250 of 353 families be removed from 60 hectares of his land.

Residents say they have lived on the land for years and have nowhere else to go.

“Why are we living there for six or ten years and we cannot get the land-sharing”, asked Hok Bunna, one of a hundred protesters outside the provincial court Tuesday. “Investigating judge Svay Tonh summoned them for interrogation, and by the end of interrogation, the military police came and brought them to prison.”

Pok Sabon, an investigator for the rights group Licadho, said the protesters were beaten by military police as they tried to stop the truck carrying accused, though no one was wounded.

Chhun Hour could not be reached for comment, but court prosecutor Bou Bun Heang said the villagers were living on the businessman’s property.