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Villagers deny inciting sand dredging protest

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Supporters of the accused villagers gather outside the courthouse yesterday. Supplied

Three villagers appeared at Kandal Provincial Court yesterday over accusations they incited protests against sand dredging in Sa’ang district.

In June, nearly 200 people from Roka Kpos and Setbo communes held banners and called on authorities to take action after nine villagers’ homes collapsed into the river, allegedly as a result of sand dredging.

Hem Hoeun, Ly Leap and Mut Mom were accused of being behind the protests and asked to clarify their actions with the court.

Ms Mom , 43, told the court that neither she or the others were responsible for inciting the protests or damaging property. “We told the court that we were all ordinary villagers,” she said.

“We all volunteered to protest against sand dredging in our commune, which was making homes fall into the water and the river bank collapse.

“No one persuaded us to protest and we didn’t persuade other villagers.”

Prosecutor Leav Sreng earlier ordered the three villagers to clarify their actions after the court received a complaint from the sand dredging business involved, Lang Ching company.

Mr Houen said he and the other villagers asked the court to drop the legal complaint from the firm.  “We only protested because their sand dredging caused the river bank to collapse,” he said.

Hun Vannak, an environmental activist from the now defunct Mother Nature NGO was also arrested in August for allegedly persuading villagers to protest, but was later released.

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