Ratanakkiri provincial court yesterday summoned a local rights group official to answer questions about a complaint filed against Electricity du Cambodge in the province’s Bokeo district over allegations workers from the company illegally cut down private cashew groves to install electricity poles.
Chhay Thy, a provincial investigator with Adhoc, accused the state company’s workers last Thursday of illegally clearing cashew trees belonging to thousands of villagers along National Road 78A in late October.
“The deputy prosecutor will investigate the case after questioning me,” Chhay Thy said.
Deputy prosecutor Mam Vanda said the Adhoc investigator had been summoned to “allow him to show his evidence in the case”.
Samrith Hot, manager of the Samrith Ly Company, said he had been authorised by the EDC to connect villagers’ homes to power lines but had nothing to do with the destruction of the cashew groves.
“My company is not responsible for the damage because the [EDC] did these actions,” he said, Officials from EDC could not be reached for any comment yesterday.
Hem Vanthorn, director of the provincial Office of Mining in Ratanakkiri, said the EDC was erecting power lines in Ou Ya Dav, Bokeo and Banlong districts to carry electricity from Vietnam.
He added that the legal issues in the case focused on whether the land was considered state-owned or private.
“According to the Land Law, if the cashew trees were on villagers’ land, the authorities have to pay compensation,” he said, but acknowledged that he did not know the status of the land.