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Farmer charged over cassava theft

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
The tractor used by the accused and the stolen cassava. CEN

Battambang Provincial Court yesterday charged a 28-year-old farmer for allegedly stealing more than 800 kilograms of cassava in Kors Kralor district.

Major General Cheth Vanny, provincial deputy police chief, identified the accused as Hai Seila, a 28-year-old farmer from Preah Phos commune in Battambang province’s Kors Kralor district.

The victim was identified as Ma La, a 35-year-old soldier living in the same area as the accused. Mr La owns a plot of land, on which a cassava farm sits, after the court ruled in his favour following a dispute with the accused in 2017.

Maj Gen Vanny said Mr Seila was arrested on Monday and was yesterday charged with theft. He faces between six months to two years in jail if convicted and is currently in pre-trial detention.

Maj Gen Vanny noted that the accused was arrested following a complaint submitted by Mr La, who accused Mr Seila and his wife, 25-year-old Sok Mom, of stealing cassava from his land.

Ms Mom was also charged by the court with accomplice to theft, but has been released on bail to care for her two kids while Mr Seila is detained pending his trial.

Major Kong Thuon, a police officer with Kors Kralor district police, noted that Mr La and Mr Seila in 2015 were involved in dispute over a plot of land measuring one hectare in Preah Phos commune.

The dispute was settled in Battambang Provincial Court in 2017 with Mr La named as the owner.

Maj Thuon noted that in December last year, Mr La cleared the land to plant cassava to be sold. He added that Mr Seila and his wife on Sunday harvested the cassavas and intended to sell them.

Mr La submitted a complaint against Mr Seila and Ms Mom to commune police, who arrested the husband and wife in their house on Monday.

Following their arrests, police confiscated 33 large sacks of cassava weighing more than 800 kilograms and a homemade tractor from them.

“During police interrogation, he confessed that he harvested the cassava, saying that the plaintiff planted them on his land,” Maj Thuon said. “He said the plaintiff took his land and planted the cassava.”

Mr La and Mr Seila could not be reached for comment.

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