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Claims of coercion heat Ratanakkiri land row

Claims of coercion heat Ratanakkiri land row

A COMMUNE chief has tried to force residents of Kong Yu village in Ratanakkiri province's O’Yadav district to accept compensation and withdraw their suit against Keat Kolney, sister of Finance Minister Keat Chhon, over an ongoing land dispute, villagers said Wednesday.

According to village representative Chaev Thai, Pate commune Chief Chhev Nhaing met with the community on Monday and urged them to thumbprint an agreement that would give each family US$400 in exchange for dropping their suit over 450 hectares of disputed land.

“This is the sixth time the commune chief has [pressured] the villagers to thumbprint an agreement to withdraw their complaint,” he said. “We are afraid they may use false thumbprints to cheat us.”

Chhev Nhaing said that some villagers had given their thumbprints voluntarily, and that he wanted to resolve the dispute outside of court. The villagers filed the claim in 2007 that Keat Kolney had tricked them out of the land.

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