Despite a court-ordered land title in their favour, 163 families in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district last week watched excavators rip apart their homes at the behest of two district deputy governors.
The forced eviction, denounced in a petition delivered on Friday to Prime Minister Hun Sen, came despite a Supreme Court decision favouring the 163 families in Phnom Penh Thmey commune’s Rong Chak village.
They have been in a dispute with businesswoman Keo Neam since 2005 and have taken her to court three times.
The families have spent the past week living in makeshift shelters around the outskirts of the disputed area.
Village representative Chea Samrom, 56, said yesterday Sen Sok district deputy governors Mouv Manith and Chea Khema had led a security force last Monday to tear down their houses and impound her car on behalf of Keo Neam.
“The activities of these two deputy governors were very cruel because they have destroyed our houses and property without the court’s [supporting] verdict,” she said.
“They should not serve as governors working for the Cambodian government.”
Samrom said she had sent a letter requesting the premier to intervene in the case.
“We would also like to ask Samdech Hun Sen to return the land the court had already ruled we possessed,” she said.
Chea Khema admitted yesterday he had participated in the forced eviction but refused to explain why Samrom’s car was impounded. The car was returned shortly after Khema was contacted by the Post.
“I have done it following the order of the governor of Sen Sok district [Khuon Sreng] only,” he said. Khuon Sreng could not be reached for comment yesterday.
A government source close to the case told the Post yesterday Keo Neam was a land speculator with close links to Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema, Oknha Tan Senghak, who has recently been charged with drug trafficking, and other Sen Sok district officials.
Kep Chuktema hung up on a reporter yesterday when they asked him about any connection to Keo Neam.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]