Boy Beaten by Plantation Staff Sent to Vietnam for Treatment

A 14-year-old boy severely beaten by employees of a well-connected rubber plantation company in Ratanakkiri province on Saturday was sent to Vietnam for treatment for a life-threatening blood clot in his brain on Monday, according to his father, while a soldier detained in connection to the incident was released. Ry Soklim, 14, was among four villagers in Andong Meas district beaten with wooden and steel poles by employees of DM Group while trying to prevent them from clearing land that had recently been awarded to his family by student volunteers working under the nationwide land-titling program, according to court officials and the boy’s father, Ry Saron. … According to Mr. Saron, a lone armed solider at the scene of the incident on Saturday had threatened to shoot anyone who interfered with the clearing of his land. … Provincial court deputy prosecutor Ros Saram said they released [Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) Colonel Srey Thoeun] after questioning him yesterday because he did not attack the victims and because he had permission from his commanders in RCAF Division 2, Battalion 21, to travel in the province at the service of businessman Sum Samnang. Ratanakirri military police cheif Kim Rasmey, who questioned Col. Theon yesterday morning before sending him to the provincial court, said Col. Thoeun had been working as a driver for the owner of the DM Group. “Mr. Thoeun works as a driver for the okhna of the DM Group,” he said, only giving his name as Mr. Samnang. The DM group has been involved in various land disputes with villagers in the province for several years.