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Court delays hearing in land dispute case

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Kampong Speu villagers embroiled in a land dispute with a local NGO protest outside the Appeal Court yesterday.

The Appeal Court yesterday delayed a hearing into a land dispute in Kampong Speu province between villagers and a local NGO because a representative of the organisation “felt sick”, a court official said yesterday.

The hearing involving two representatives from Treng Trayoeng commune’s village 3 in Phnom Sruoch district and NGO Farmer Association was delayed because military official and NGO representative Colonel Yi Sari asked the court to delay the hearing while he received medical treatment in Vietnam, presiding judge Pol Samoeun said.

About 50 residents who travelled from the village to attend the hearing stood outside the court with banners.

Village representatives and rights workers have claimed that a Supreme Court verdict granting 160 hectares of land in the commune’s village 6 to the NGO was being wrongly implemented in village 3, affecting 66 families who lived and farmed in the area.

Provincial deputy prosecutor Moth Dara told the Post last week that the verdict was being carried out in the correct location, because the area now known as village 3 used to be village 6.

However, after issuing the verdict the Supreme Court ordered an additional hearing for further investigation into the villagers’ documentation.

Village representatives Seng Oeurn and Yin Chhang were due to appear at the Appeal Court in relation to the dispute yesterday.

“We spent around 50,000 riel [about US$12.50] each of our own money to come here,” Seng Oeurn said. “Now we waste money and the hearing did not proceed.” He added that local authorities were continuing to bulldoze land in the village.

Colonel Yi Sari told the Post yesterday that he should have attended the hearing, but he could not because he was unwell.

“The court verdict is not [being] implemented in the wrong place,” he said. “We have local authorities joining the monitoring. Whatever we do is to abide by the law.”

The Appeal Court did not set a new date for the hearing.

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