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Opposition Commune Official Arrested in Kandal

Meas Peng was elected as a deputy chief of Banteay Dek commune in last week’s election.

An opposition party commune councilor was arrested near his home in Kandal province Tuesday morning, accused of inciting violence among residents in a local land dispute last year.

Meas Peng was escorted by four armed police into a waiting vehicle and taken to provincial facilities, where he is accused of inciting violence amongst residents embroiled in a land dispute with a local official in Kien Svay district.

Sam Rainsy Party officials said he was being arrested because of his politics and called for his immediate release. Meas Peng was elected as a deputy chief of Banteay Dek commune in last week’s election.

“Meas Peng was not involved with the land issue, because he’s always lived at his home,” said Eng Chhay Eng, an SRP senator. He questioned the timing of the arrest, just after commune elections last week.

However, Kandal judge Lim Sokuntha said the arrest followed his decision and detention order and had been in accordance with the law.

He said he had ordered Meas Peng’s detention in September 2011, after which another opposition party member, Chan Cheng, was accused of helping him flee custody. Chan Cheng, who had his parliamentary immunity revoked after the incident, has denied he abetted an escape.

Chan Cheng and his attorney declined to comment on Tuesday. Chan Saveth, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said Meas Peng’s arrest included some irregularities that the group would follow up on.

Meas Peng’s daughter, Meas Mara, 25, said her father was innocent of inciting violence. “The land grabbers, why have the authorities not arrested them?” she said. “Why have they arrested my father, who helps villagers?”