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Employee of sugar firm sues villagers

A REPRESENTATIVE of the Phnom Penh Sugar Company has filed a complaint accusing five villagers in Kampong Speu province of illegally detaining her for several hours last month during a confrontation related to an ongoing land dispute.

Chheang Kimsruon said yesterday that she had filed the complaint with the provincial court last Friday, though she refused to provide the names of the accused.

The complaint stems from an incident that took place on August 23, when about 300 villagers from Omlaing commune, located in Kampong Speu’s Thpong district, blocked National Road 52 for about 10 hours.

More than 2,000 families from Omlaing commune have been affected by a 9,000-hectare concession granted to Phnom Penh Sugar, which is owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat.

Following the incident, Chheang Kimsruon claimed that her health had been at risk during the incident because she is diabetic.

“It is my right to protect myself, so I have filed a complaint against five village representatives,” she said. “I did not file the complaint on behalf of the company. I filed it on my own.”

Villagers say that they blocked the road in an effort to prevent the company’s employees from tearing down homes in O’Thmar Chruok village, and to force the company to negotiate. They contend that their intention was never to “detain” Chheang Kimsruon.

Phal Vannak, a village representative, yesterday said again that the villagers “just wanted to negotiate”.

Meanwhile, two other villagers involved in the same dispute are due to appear at the provincial court today to answer to allegations that they are living on the company’s land.

Chhuon Chuon, a 60-year-old teacher and one of the two men summoned, said yesterday that he planned to ask the court for a delay because he had been unable to find a lawyer.

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