TWO NGO workers and four village representatives from Kampot province refused to answer summonses calling on them to appear at the Appeal Court yesterday for questioning related to a land dispute, with one of the village representatives saying they feared they would be arrested.
Soung Sorn, the chief of Dop Sralao village in Teuk Chhou district’s Trapong Pring commune, accused the two NGO workers of attempted murder and defamation following a June 16 altercation in which villagers accosted employees of Phnom Penh businesswoman Heav Lon and tried to stop them from clearing 58 hectares of disputed land.
Heav Lon filed a separate complaint accusing the four village representatives of farming the land illegally.
A group of 26 former Khmer Rouge families claim to have lived on the land since 1983 after receiving a concession from the government, and to have farmed it since 1996. In 2005, Heav Lon accused villagers who were farming the land of destroying her private property.
“We have been planting on the farmland since 1996, and we don’t know why they filed a compliant against us,” said Khout Khean, one of the village representatives who was summoned. “We dare not go to the court because we are afraid of arrest.”
Im Phanna, the lawyer for the village representatives, said he met with court officials yesterday to discuss the complaints against his clients, but that no resolution had been reached. He said, though, that he expected the matter to be resolved soon.
“I don’t know the result yet because I had another meeting afterwards, so I will let you know the result soon,” he said. Appeal Court officials could not be reached.
Chean Sorn, one of the summonsed NGO workers, yesterday reiterated his claim that he did not know the basis of the complaint against him.