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'Salt' land case

A senior military official agreed to return 1,200 hectares of land to residents of

three indigenous villages in Ratanakkiri, provided he receives $35,000 in compensation

from Prime Minister Hun Sen. General Nuon Phea told the Appeals Court on July 31

that he would transfer the 247 land titles to villagers, who accused him of illegally

seizing their land in exchange for bags of salt. Hun Sen last year promised to compensate

Phea if he returned the land. The hearing marks the latest episode in a legal battle

which has gone on for years, and in which King Norodom Sihanouk intervened on the

villagers' behalf. The court will issue its decision on August 6.

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