Banteay Meanchey police and Military Police on Friday dismantled villagers’ homes built in a social land concession for veterans after they allegedly bought the land from a relative of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Phlon Dara, Military Police chief in Banteay Meanchey, said officials brought down 72 of the homes and huts, while villagers “voluntarily” took down the other 21.
“They agreed to dismantle [them], and in principle, we had to educate them,” he said. “If they are really poor people and do not have land, they can put [forward] a request through village, commune and district authorities.”
The villagers who owned the homes claimed they had been persuaded by three people to buy the land, Dara said. Three men in connection with this case were arrested in February and provisionally charged with attempting to set up a village inside the social land concession.
Dara said the suspects had allegedly sold plots of land, measuring 20-by-500 metres, to the villagers for 10,000 baht (about $320). Villagers had to pay an additional 6,000 baht (about $193) for their houses.
One of the suspects in February identified the person behind the scheme as an “excellency” named Dy Proem. The same name is shared by one of Hun Sen’s cousins, who has been convicted of a fraudulent land deal in the past.
“The one who stands behind to support is named ‘Chum Teav’ Dy Proem,” Dara said. “She called me, but I did not solve the problem. She said she was the cousin of Samdech [Hun Sen]. But I’m not sure because talking on the phone, I cannot be sure.”
He said the woman allegedly asked him to release the three suspects following their February arrest.
No contact information could be found for Proem.