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Quartet summonsed over national highway protest

kspeuvillagers

Villager's representatives involved in a protest over the seizing of land in a commune in Kampong Speu province in November have been summonsed to court to respond to claims that they tried to prevent officials from implementing a Supreme Court verdict.

Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post
Villagers from Phnom Sruoch district’s Treng Trayoeng commune in Kampong Speu province thumbprint a document yesterday at the office of local rights group Adhoc in Phnom Penh.

According to four different summonses signed by Kampong Speu provincial court prosecutor Keo Sothea on January 5, and obtained by the Post yesterday, Try Thorn, Yin Chhang, Nguon Nakry and Sok Kong from Phnom Sruoch district’s Treng Trayoeng commune have been summonsed to appear in the court.

The summonses state that the four are “suspects” who will be questioned over allegations that they tried to prevent land being handed over to NGO Farmer Association.

Village representatives and rights workers have claimed that a Supreme Court verdict granting 160 hectares of land in the commune’s village 6 to the NGO was being wrongly implemented in village 3, affecting 66 families who lived and farmed in the area.

The villagers whose names appear in the summonses told the Post yesterday that they did not know why they had been called to court.

However, they said they were among about 100 villagers who gathered to block national highway 4 on November 24 last year to protest against the seizing.

“The implementation of the verdict was not proper because the verdict was in village 6, but it was implemented in village 3,” said Yin Chhang, who will appear in court on Friday.

Sok Kong, 45, who is due to face questioning next Tuesday, said the Supreme Court had made it clear that the land in question was in village 6, but officials had proceeded to erect a post in village 3 in preparation to claim land there.

She said that she had occupied land in village 3 since 1988 and the commune chief had issued her with a land title in 1993.

“But the court says that the land belongs to the farmer association so the court went ahead and claimed it. They called us because we protested against them,” she said.

Seven villagers from the commune travelled to the office of human rights group Adhoc in Phnom Penh yesterday to ask for a lawyer to defend their representatives.

Chan Soveth, head of monitoring at Adhoc, said his organisation was considering assigning a lawyer to the case.

Chan Savet, an investigator for Adhoc, said he had requested that the court review the implementation of the verdict.

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