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Called to court: Summonsed woman brings crowd of 150

A woman summonsed to Kampong Speu provincial court over a land dispute yesterday returned home without being arrested after about 150 protesting villagers turned out to support her.

Rath Thavy, provincial monitor for human rights group Adhoc, speculated that the court decided not to arrest Khem Srey Pao, 37, of Thpong district’s Omlaing commune, because it was afraid of the villagers’ reaction.

However, Klot Pich, director of the provincial court, said the court had simply asked Khem Srey Pao, who was summonsed last week, about the complaint filed by Him Sam Oeun, and “did not arrest her”.

Villagers believe Him Sam Oeun is a phantom person created by the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, which has been locked in a land dispute with the residents since receiving a 9,000-hectare concession from the government in 2010.

However, company representative Chheang Kim Sun said the company was not involved in the dispute.

“We have never played a trick on villagers by hiring people to take over somebody’s land,” she said.

The Phnom Penh Sugar Company is owned by ruling Cambodian People’s Party senator Ly Yong Phat.

One of the village representatives, Chum Srey Noun, has been in custody since Thursday, but residents expect her to be released soon because her husband has agreed to relinquish their land.

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