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Villagers say company deceived them in deal

Five Koh Kong families embroiled in an ongoing land dispute with Heng Huy Agriculture Company were accompanied by more than 50 villagers yesterday as they went to court to clarify why they are asking for contracts signed with the company to be annulled.

Although only five representatives were due to speak in court on behalf of the families from Botum Sakor and Sre Ambel districts, many others turned up because they all felt victimised by the company, community representative Phay Nheung said yesterday.

“The reason we filed to void the contract is because Huy Heng and the authorities cheated and threatened us, promising to measure our land if we agreed to give some land over. But they did not follow the contract,” she said.

Representatives told the court they wished to settle the case peacefully and requested 10 days to come to a compromise, she added.

“We need time to discuss, because in total 12 families have a land dispute with the company over 58.90 hectares of land, so if we compromise [on this], we compromise both cases,” Nheung said, adding the other seven families had not signed contracts.

Pok Yon, a community representative, said the villagers had lived on the land since 1979 and have had a dispute with the company since 2009, with the five families signing contracts late last year to subdivide their land for company use.

“We completely deny the contract, because he threatened and cheated us out of our land,” she said, referring to company owner, Heng Huy.

Heng Huy Agriculture Company could not be reached yesterday.

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