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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Court won't seize assets of villagers

Court won't seize assets of villagers

THE provincial court in Prey Veng ruled  Wednesday against enforcing a deadline over debts claimed by a suspected human trafficker against six families. The families say they were tricked by the man, who had promised four years ago to find them work in Thailand.

The six families said the man, Leng Oun, had insisted that in exchange for his help, they mortgage their houses or motorbikes in his favour. Instead, they ended up in jail for four days in Thailand before being deported.

Prosecutor Yam Yet said Wednesday no action had been taken to seize the assets of the villagers in Sramor village, Me Sang district, after the court had received a request from the villagers to look into their claims.

"The court wants to seize these properties from them because they are in debt," Yam Yet said. "Before this, I hadn't heard that this case involves human trafficking."

Nget Nara, a monitor for the human rights group Adhoc, said 43 families in Sramor village had thumb-printed a letter on March 5 appealing to the court prosecutor to have sympathy on the plight of the six families and not seize their houses and motorbikes. They also sent the letter to the district governor and the provincial governor.

"They are poor. They have been cheated," said Nget Nara.

But Yam Yet said four of the families were mistaken in thinking the court had issued a warrant to seize their houses.

"I have not issued a warrant to seize land or houses," Yam Yet said.

However, he conceded that court letters had been sent to two families with motorbikes who owed money to Leng Oun. "They are in debt," he explained.

The six families said their problems began when Leng Oun promised he would find them work in Thailand and advance them 400,000 riels (US$97) in exchange for a mortgage over their assets. However, they did not receive any money.

The Post was unable to reach Leng Oun for comment.



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