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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - So-called ‘village chief’ closes school

So-called ‘village chief’ closes school

A man claiming to be the chief of a made-up Poipet village is under investigation after a series of alleged misdeeds targeting villagers.

Sam Choeun, 60, the self-declared chief of Ou’Sva Roil village – which officials say is actually merely a part of Soriya village – allegedly ordered an NGO-run school closed last week. He argued the school had been built on state land and allegedly threatened to beat anybody who entered, according to teacher Meas Samnang.

The villagers filed a complaint to the provincial governor three days later, he said, after which the chief of Nimit commune, where Soriya is located, ordered the school re-opened yesterday.

Ma Rin, the Nimit commune police chief, said authorities intervened to open the school yesterday, and were investigating a pattern of alleged intimidation by Choeun.

“The person has many complaints at the court relating to fraud and instigating people from other provinces to clear and control farmland that belongs to 14 families in the area,” Rin said.

Problems between Choeun and the villagers began in 2011 when he allegedly sold villagers’ land to outsiders. According to Run Oun, the Nimit commune chief, the 14 families received land titles in 2015, but that has not ended the conflict.

Prak Sun, a representative of the plaintiffs, said they filed a complaint in 2013 to the provincial court, but were still waiting for the authorities to take action.

“Authorities claimed that they were investigating the case to collect more evidence against Sam Choeun, but until now the person is still at large and continues to threaten the villagers,” Sun said.

Oun said that in June 2016, Provincial Governor Suon Bovor ordered provincial police and Military Police to investigate the case following a complaint by the villagers, but no action was taken.

Samnang, the school teacher, yesterday expressed satisfaction about the reopening of the school. “I know that this person has committed a lot of mistakes,” he said.

Sam Choeun could not be reached.

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