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Court hears complaint on errant livestock

A FARMER in Ratanakkiri province who has accused a rubber plantation owner of charging excessively high compensation for damage caused by his buffalo was questioned by provincial court officials on Monday.

Yoeung Hampil, a 36-year-old resident of O’Chum district who first took his case to the rights group Adhoc in April, said Tuesday that he had been asked to explain the nature of his complaint against Hoeung Khoeung, who is also the deputy governor of the district.

“I met deputy prosecutor Mam Vanda on Monday to explain my complaint against Hoeung Khoeung, who forced me to pay her two buffalo and US$100 after five of my buffalo caused damage to her rubber plantation,” he said.

Hoeung Khoeung, who could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, had originally demanded $1,300 in compensation, but instead settled for two buffalo, valued at $600 each, along with $100 in cash.

Chhay Thy, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc, labelled Hoeung Khoeung’s demands “excessive”.

“It is an injustice that the farmer was forced to pay such a high compensation, especially since there was no proper investigation before he paid,” he said.

Commune chief Vong Doung said he did not believe Yoeung Hampil should have been fined at all.

“According to our traditions and agreement within the ethnic minority community, cows and buffalo can be allowed to roam freely from December to mid-May,” he said. “It was during this period that Yoeung Hampil was fined and his buffalo were detained.”

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