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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ratanakkiri court looks into land row

Ratanakkiri court looks into land row

RATANAKKIRI provincial court yesterday questioned 10 representatives of 108 ethnic minority Kreung families involved in a dispute over 180 hectares of land in Borkeo district, officials said.

Judge Loch Lao said the representatives had been summoned because court officials were unsure who was involved in the dispute with local businessmen. “We summoned them to make sure we know who is having a dispute,” he said. “We want to know how many people are having a dispute, and what are their names.”

He added: “The businessmen might have the licence to buy, but whether we will allow the land to be sold we do not know.”

But Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for the local human rights group Adhoc, said he was concerned that court officials would pressure the representatives to agree to the sale of the families’ land, which he said they had occupied since the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.

He said that although businessmen had been pressuring them to sell the land and relocate, this would be illegal because the land was considered state land.

“The summoning for reconciliation is not correct,” he said. “It is the state land, so no one can give it away.”

Multiple businessmen accused of applying pressure on the families to sell their land could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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