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SRP lawmaker’s land in Siem Reap seized

THE Apsara Authority announced Thursday that it will confiscate and sell more than 3 hectares of land in Siem Reap province owned by Son Chhay, a lawmaker for the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), to tycoon Sok Kong at the start of next month.

Son Chhay said Sunday that the courts, under pressure from Apsara’s chairman, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, delivered a decision to confiscate more than 3 hectares of land he says he purchased in 1995. The land, which is being taken under a sub-decree to preserve “state land”, has been sold to Sok Kong’s Sokimex Group for a hotel development, he said.

“It is absolutely contrary to the law. Taking this land is for a hotel, not for public interests. If it was being used to build schools or roads, I have no problem giving it up. ... I would give it up without taking even one riel,” he said.

“But they are taking the land to build a hotel on. I cannot accept the ruling because it is contrary to the principle of the Land Law.”

Bun Narith, Apsara’s director general, dismissed Son Chhay’s statements, saying that the land in question is in an Apsara conservation area, and that the sub-decree dictates that this land is meant for tourism development.

“This is a false accusation. That land has a sub-decree stating that it was put under the Apsara Authority for tourism development, making it state land. State land is not bought or sold,” he said.

Sok Keo Bandith, deputy prosecutor of Siem Reap provincial court, said he does not know what the seized land will be used for, and that he issued the verdict to confiscate the land as ordered by the Supreme Court.

“I just enforced the Supreme Court’s ruling. They decided to put that land under the Apsara Authority,” said Sok Keo Bandith.

Sokha Hotels, a subsidiary of Sok Kong’s Sokimex Group, is developing a 23-hectare hotel and tourism area in Siem Reap province.

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