Briefs: Kratie Rejects Request for Land, Reporter’s 2-Year Sentence Upheld

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Kao Piseth in a photo from March 2019 and posted on his Facebook page.
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A request by 291 Kratie families for land titles in an economic land concession was rejected by the provincial administration, which said the families had encroached on the land at the bidding of land brokers.

The families made the request last month for 1,915 hectares in Sambor district’s Vattanak commune from CXPB Development’s concession.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the provincial administration said the area in question was 12,200 hectares in total, and more than 9,000 hectares had already been cut for residents. The remainder was for the company’s use, and could not be handed to families, it said.

The letter accused the families of encroaching on state and company land for land brokers, and warned of legal action against the brokers.

The statement said that if poor people really lacked land for farming, they could submit requests for social land concessions, and they should not listen to brokers and illegally encroach on state land.

The families could not be reached for comment. A report that two people were briefly detained after a protest could not be confirmed with police, military police or local rights groups.

— Khut Sokun

Appeal Court Upholds Reporter’s Two-Year Sentence 

The Battambang Appeal Court upheld a two-year jail sentence for a reporter who criticized the government over vaccinations.

Battambang provincial police arrested Kao Piseth, a reporter for website SR Breaking News, on July 14, 2021 after he posted a message on his Facebook account questioning the government’s use of China-made Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. Reporters Without Borders criticized the arrest at the time.

The Battambang Provincial Court in December sentenced Kao Piseth to two years in prison and fined him 3 million riel, about $750, for incitement to disturb social security.

Defense lawyer Nuon Phanith said on Thursday that the Appeal Court in Battambang had upheld the lower court’s verdict on Tuesday.

Phanith said he had argued for a more lenient sentence as the defendant had cooperated with authorities at all levels.

Cambodian Journalists Alliance director Nop Vy suggested using the Press Law rather than Criminal Code for journalists’ mistakes.

However, Tieng Sambo, spokesperson for the Appeal Court in Battambang, said the verdict was at the discretion of the court, and the journalist had committed a criminal offense that did not fall under the Press Law.

“Even though he is a journalist, he committed a criminal offense. The Press Law is different. If he committed a criminal offense, it is a criminal offense.”

— Meng Kroypunlok

Kampot Couple Arrested for Forgery

A husband and wife were arrested for allegedly using forged signatures of Prime Minister Hun Sen and Interior Minister Sar Kheng in Kampot province.

Kampot provincial police chief Mao Chanmathurith said on Thursday that the case of the couple, which happened in Chhuk district, had been sent to the provincial prosecutor. He referred further questions to the prosecutor.

Trapaing Phlaing commune chief Thav Vannareth said he had heard the incident involved his jurisdiction, but did not know what it involved. Provincial deputy prosecutor Kha Dena did not answer questions. Court spokesman Mann Boreth said he had no information.

— Phin Rathana

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