Two Koh Kong land protesters have been placed under court supervision after being sued by a former community representative who villagers allege was part of a conspiracy to sell residents’ land to tycoons.
Chhay Vy, a former representative of “Community 175,” a group of villagers in a land dispute with the Heng Huy sugar plantation, accused three residents of incitement and defamation over claims that she was working to sell the community’s land.
After a hearing on Wednesday morning, the Koh Kong Provincial Court placed two of the defendants under court supervision, prohibiting them from changing residences and requiring them to check in with district authorities once a month, according to a monitor at rights group Licadho.
About 200 protesters from six communities gathered outside the court for the hearing.
“She stole the land — I have both witnesses and evidence,” said Pao Nherng, from Sre Ambel district’s Chi Khor Krom commune.
A group of villagers filed a complaint about Vy to Interior Minister Sar Kheng last year.
Vy responded on Wednesday that she had not sold any community land, and demanded that her accusers present concrete evidence.
“If I do not see the evidence of what they have accused me of, I want them to pay me $20,000 and go to jail for five years,” Vy told VOD.
The three defendants in the case are Nherng, Sen Lin and Khon Phon. Nherng and Lin were placed under court supervision.
Licadho’s Koh Kong provincial coordinator, Hour In, said all three were questioned by judges on Wednesday.
“It is a threat to break the spirit of the people from protesting,” In said.
The court issued a statement saying that Wednesday’s case was unrelated to land disputes.
However, a separate case involving the same sugar plantation was heard at the court the previous day on Tuesday.
The case was brought by Heng Huy against 10 land disputants, five of whom were placed under court supervision on Tuesday. The five others were put under court supervision last week.
Dek Hour, one of the defendants, said the 10 were also accused of incitement and defamation.
The dispute between villagers and Heng Huy is long-standing, with villagers saying land encroachment started in 2007. Villagers were also summoned to court last year for incitement and defamation.
(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)