Ratanakiri community reps jailed following unjust convictionPublished on December 2, 2015
This afternoon, three community representatives were sentenced to two years in prison by Ratanakiri court as over 100 supporters gathered outside the courtroom to protest the proceedings.
The community representatives were first summonsed in May 2015 as an intimidation tactic in the midst of a land conflict which started in 2012, when workers hired by Phnom Penh businessman Heang Socheat – and with the support of armed police – began clearing hundreds of hectares of land which had supported the livelihoods of 100 families living in Borkeo district.
Sout Soeun, Em Chan, and Chreuk Touck were convicted of charges relating to infringement of ownership under Articles 247, 248 and 253 of the Land Law. Only Article 253 carries a prison sentence, and is defined as ‘violence against a possessor of immovable property’. Despite a complete lack of any evidence of violence, all three received maximum prison sentences and were immediately sent to Ratanakiri prison following their sentencing. After the verdict was announced, supporters were pushed away from the entrance of the courthouse by armed military police.