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20 Sep 2021

Sorn Sarath, CamboJA

Cambodia: Kandal Court release nine villagers on bail after their families write apology letters following their arrests after protests in land disputes

"Nine villagers released on bail after week-long detention for airport protests", 20 September 2021

Nine people who were charged by the Kandal provincial court after protesting during an ongoing land dispute over a new airport in Kandal were released on bail ... They face as much as five years behind bars if found guilty.

Chuon Sopanha, the spokesperson for the Kandal Provincial Court prosecution, confirmed that the nine villagers were released on bail … at their families’ request.

According to the bail order issued by investigating judge Vann Sopanha, the nine people had been detained over three charges: intentional violence with aggravating circumstances, obstructing a public official with aggravating circumstances and incitement to commit a felony, under Criminal Code article 494 and 495. Those arrested can be punished by up to five years in prison…

… 23-year-old Dok Sinat, one of the nine people who has been charged, denied using violence during the protest.

“They told us that the state is developing an airport to serve the public interest, so the state has the right to confiscate or buy the land and we cannot deny, and the price of $8 [per square meter] is set by the state and the people have to participate,” she said. “I just heard the villagers say that if we refused to sell for $8, they would not release me, so my family just agreed. They seemed to take me hostage.”

… Am Sam Ath, deputy director of monitoring at rights group Licadho, said that while he was grateful for their release, the nine people were still facing criminal charges…