The Preah Vihear Provincial Court yesterday sentenced four men for burning a contentious fence during a 2014 protest against an economic land concession (ELC) in Kulen district held by the FP Malaysia (Cambodia) Plantation.
Srayong Cheung village residents Sing Dy, Huon Chan Thoeun, Touch Sam Bul and Koy Chamroeun, who had been identified as the ringleaders, were given one-year suspended sentences and 1 million riel fines ($250), according to provincial prosecutor Ly Lon.
“For one year they must not commit any crimes or they will actually be behind bars,” Lon said, adding that the four had 30 days to launch an appeal.
The four have also been ordered to pay $62 in damages each to FP Malaysia, who had originally demanded $7,500 in compensation for the damage.
Charges against eight co-defendants were dropped.
Thoeun yesterday called the verdict an “injustice” and said he and the other three accused were too poor to pay the fine and damages, adding that they were discussing whether to take their appeal to the court or directly to the prime minister.
Lor Chan, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, echoed Chan Thoeun’s sentiments.
“Even though the prison sentence is suspended, it is still an injustice,” Chan said.
FP was not reachable for comment.