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Vendors questioned about land dispute

FOUR vendors at Prey Lvea market, located in Takeo province’s Prey Kabas district, appeared in court yesterday for questioning after a complaint from a district official, who accused the vendors of operating illegally on his land.

Tong Bunly, head of the Prey Kabas district Animal Health Care Office, filed a complaint on August 2 after the vendors refused to vacate an 8.5-by-19-metre plot of land he claims to have owned since 1996.

But the four vendors – Sok Aing, Sou Lay, In Khan and Eng Chenda – say the land belongs to the state.

In Khan’s daughter, May Srey Sokheoun, appeared in her mother’s place at court yesterday, along with the other three vendors.

She said they had told the investigating judge that they built their stalls at Prey Lvea market in 1979, and that Tong Bunly had built his house in 2008 on state land.

“We were afraid that they would try to intimidate or arrest us, so we brought a petition with thumbprints from about 100 vendors who vow to oppose any attempts to arrest us,” she said. The vendors were all allowed to return home after the hearing, she said.

Tong Bunly reiterated his claim to the land yesterday. “I have tried to tell those vendors to move off my land many times, but they refuse. That is why I’ve sued them,” he said.

But, Ith Sa, Prey Kabas district governor, was sceptical of Tong Bunly’s claims. “Presumably, the disputed land is not private property. So let the court deal with this case through legal procedures,” he said.

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