Influential businesswoman You Chantha was arrested on Wednesday over allegations she cleared 17 hectares of land in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, defying a court order handed down as part of an ongoing land dispute.
“After her arrest, she was sent to the Ministry of Interior for questioning,” said district police chief Yim Sarann.
Chantha reportedly constructed buildings on the plot in Trapaing Krasaing commune’s Prey Daun Ouk village, despite an ongoing legal battle with the Chinese Hok Kien Association since 2007.
According to that organisation, the land is an ancient Chinese gravesite.
Captain Seng Sopheak, of the Interior Ministry’s penal police department, said Chantha began clearing the land in 2014, prompting the association’s vice-president, Seng Siheng, to petition Phnom Penh Municipal Court for an injunction.
The injunction was granted in December, but was apparently ignored by Chantha.
Chantha is known to have strong ties in the judiciary and to have been a close associate of disgraced former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov.
Pov was imprisoned in 2006 for more than 40 years on multiple charges, including involvement in attempted murders.
Prior to his arrest, Pov fled to Malaysia, claiming to have information about high-level corruption in Cambodia.