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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Summonses, arrests must stop: villagers

Villagers gather to discuss court summonses related to land disputes in Omlaing commune in Kampong Speu
Villagers gather to discuss court summonses related to land disputes in Omlaing commune in Kampong Speu. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Summonses, arrests must stop: villagers

Villagers locked in a land dispute with ruling party senator Ly Yong Phat’s Phnom Penh Sugar Company have submitted a petition to the provincial court asking for a cessation of the court’s issuing of summonses and arrest warrants.

The court has so far issued 37 summonses, including nine arrest warrants, to some of the 200 people involved in the dispute with the tycoon, who accuses the villagers of illegally occupying land in Thpong district’s Omlaing commune.

Although the summonses don’t list a complainant, some of those called to appear in court earlier in December say they believed Yong Phat was behind the court action.

Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a directive banning the use of land for 200 metres on either side of Road 44 in Omlaing, but the company did not adhere to the premier’s directive, Phal Vannak, a representative of the villagers, told the Post.

“We came to hear the case, but we wrote a petition to demand the court stop summonsing us as well as cease arresting people in Omlaing commune, because we are the land owners and the victims who have lost our land,” he said.

Representatives of the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, which is owned by Yong Phat, could not be reached for comment.

Since the villagers began fighting eviction from their homes in February 2010, about 65 of those involved have been charged after being summonsed to court.

Ouch Leng, director of the Cambodian Human Rights Task Force, said the company had used the courts to bully the villagers.

“In this case, the court has become the company’s apparatus, because the court does not appear to seek justice for people. The court follows what the company orders,” he claimed.

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