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Authorities confiscate equipment from a construction site earlier this month in Banlung as Uk Sam Ol (left) watches on.
Authorities confiscate equipment from a construction site earlier this month in Banlung as Uk Sam Ol (left) watches on. Photo supplied

Construction feud embroils local gov in Ratanakkiri

The governor of Ratanakkiri’s Banlung town was sued on Wednesday by a local resident and army veteran for allegedly seizing construction materials and violating private property rights without a court warrant.

Kory Prel, 46, who served in the army and provincial police for more than 30 years, filed a $5,000 suit against Banlung governor Uk Sam Ol.

“Ol led the police and provincial military police forces to stop me from building the house, and seized a steel cutter [torch], a shovel, wire, a wood planer . . . without a court warrant,” Prel said yesterday.

Sam Ol contends Prel’s house was built without any legal permission and that it infringes on public land.

“We just follow the law,” he said.

Prel, however, maintains he was building a new home – for which he took out an $18,000 loan – on land he has lived on since 1984.

While the provincial committee for land management offered $745 to buy a 4-metre strip of his 1and facing the road in 2004, Prel says he refused.

Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that Prel’s house is built further from the road than any of the 10 surrounding homes, and that police acted “without any decision from court”.

Huoth Bory, Banlung town police chief, declined to comment on whether police had a warrant.

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