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.