Injured victims of cops opening fire on protesting villagers in Chikreng commune, Siem Reap province (Photo: Savyouth, RFA)
23 March 2009
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Socheata
Click here to read the article in Khmer
Relatives of three men from Chikreng commune who were seriously injured following the shooting perpetrated by armed cops in Chikreng district stemming from a land dispute involving 90-hectare of rice field located in the Dike 78 Suong region, are looking for legal help to sue for compensation for their injured loved ones.
In the morning of Monday 23 March, Mrs. Cheng Hon said that Luon Vinh, her husband, was seriously injured by bullets (shot by the cops) and he is currently undergoing medical care at the Siem Reap province hospital. She said that she is currently suing the Chikreng district authority which is responsible for this case and she also said that each family of the victims demands $5,000 in damage compensation for their loved ones who were shot. The victims have contacted the Adhoc human rights group in Siem reap province to ask for its help to file the lawsuit against the shooting perpetrated by the cops: “My husband was shot twice, he was seriously injured and his knee cap was shattered. We ask $5,000 in compensation.”
The decision by the victim’s families to sue the cops was made one day after a joint civilian and military police forces opened fire on a group of villagers from Chikreng commune. The villagers came by the hundreds to hold a protest at the Dike 78 Suong because of a land dispute involving their rice fields. The shooting injured 4 villagers and 40 other villagers were arrested on the morning of 22 March.
Ty Sovinthal, the prosecutor for the Siem Reap court, denied involvement in the armed violence, he said that the shooting was not undertaken by his order. He said that he only traveled to the incident location based on the request made by the Chikreng district governor and the police inspector. He then went on to visit the incident location, but 3 kilometers away from his destination, he received the information that the cops were shooting at the villagers there.
Nevertheless, Ty Sovinthal added that he will order the cops to file a report so that the cops involved in the shooting will face the law. However, he also threatened to sue news reporters and RFA which published the information in which he allegedly led the cops during the shooting raid on the villagers.
Ty Sovinthal said: “If you can find that I arrived at the incident location, and I wrongfully ordered (the shooting), I agree to go to jail.”
Sou Phirin, the CPP Siem Reap provincial governor, said that in the case of the land dispute involving 90-hectare of rice field between villagers from Chikreng and Anlong Samnor communes, the provincial authority attempted to mediate this issue on several occasions already, he also regretted to see the shooting on the protesting villagers and the injuries inflicted on them. Therefore, the provincial authority will pay the medical bill for the villagers and it will continue to find a better solution to this land dispute: “The medical care cost will be paid by the provincial authority, these are poor [villagers].”
In the afternoon of 23 March, a group of provincial officials led by Sou Phirin himself, visited the incident location and they studied the land dispute in order to provide a new land subdivision.
On Monday evening, it was learnt that a number of villagers have disappeared following the shooting by the cops. Several hundred rounds of bullet were shot by the cops. As for the 40 villagers arrested by the cops, more than 30 of them were released and sent back home.