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Villagers testify in OMeanchey land-row case

Siem Reap Province
TWO men from Oddar Meanchey province appeared in Siem Reap provincial court on Tuesday to answer allegations that they have violated state land, court officials said.

About 20 families have claimed the disputed land in Samraong town, which is not currently occupied, but provincial Education Department officials have dismissed the claims as baseless.

Tok Hokteng, 48, one of two villagers who was questioned on Tuesday, said his family has owned the land since 2000, when he bought it from the previous owner, adding that he had “legal documents” that have previously been endorsed by local officials.

Two other villagers who have claimed the land declined to appear for their scheduled court appearances on Monday, and Tok Hokteng said he had been reluctant to show up himself.

“At first I was scared, but when the judge asked me when I bought the site, whether I had ownership papers and who I bought it from, I felt better, and then the judge allowed us to go home,” he said.

Siem Reap provincial court prosecutor Ty Soveinthal said more villagers would be summoned in the case.

Sao Sovann, director of the Oddar Meanchey Education Department, said he had filed the complaint against roughly 20 families, adding that only one or two had legitimate ownership papers, whereas the rest had no documentation.

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