Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) deputy chief of operations General Pou Sabut Dy urged authorities to discipline two soldiers who are accused of intimating villagers and seizing 300ha of land in Kampong Chhnang province.
In a letter released last Thursday, Sabut Dy said that soldiers Hem Sophary and Kong Sarin conspired with a resident to forge documents and present them to the residents of Chambak Prasat village in Teuk Phos district’s Kraing Skear commune to intimidate them into conceding their property.
It read: “The three offenders even filed a lawsuit with the Kampong Chhnang Provincial Court against the residents and accused them of causing violence, but this is not true at all. The three offenders did this because they intended to intimidate and threaten the citizens to stop protesting.
“All levels of authorities, institutions and authorised organisations can enforce the law on anyone or any entity that threatens the rights of citizens as this case does.”
Chambak Prasat resident Long Seun told The Post on Wednesday that he and two fellow residents, Sea Kheng and Im Sao, were accused by Sophary and Sarin in July of threatening them with violence when they were only ploughing their field.
Having filed a complaint against the two soldiers over the use of fake documents, Seun asked Sabut Dy to inspect the site to help resolve the dispute.
He received confirmation from Sabut Dy on Tuesday that the soldiers did not own the land as they had claimed.
Seun said: “The two soldiers used fake documents to illegally grab the land at the upper-creek area but they owned land in the lower creek. Their property is at the lower creek, while ours is at the upper creek.
“The lower creek is filled with mango trees, but they also used forged documents to grab more residents’ land at the lower creek too.”
Seun’s complaint claimed that the 300ha of land had been occupied by 36 families since 1991. It said that village and commune authorities issued temporary land titles to the families in 1993 so that they could live there undisturbed.
Chambak Prasat village chief Yong Lorn confirmed to The Post that the residents of the village had been issued temporary land titles in 1993.
“Despite the 300ha of land having not yet been measured for official land titles to be issued, the citizens have temporarily land titles,” he said.
Neither Sabut Dy, Sophary or Sarin could be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Ministry of National Defence spokesman Chhum Socheat said had did not read Sabut Dy’s letter, but said everyone, regardless of whether or not they are a soldier, must obey the law of the land.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen does not allow anyone to illegally grab citizens’ land. Anyone who violates the property rights of the people must be held accountable as per the law,” Socheat said.
Kampong Chhnang Province Adhoc coordinator Soum Chankea said: “Authorities should expel the two soldiers from the RCAF, arrest them and bring them to court to be held accountable. They must do this so that the RCAF can continue to serve as a role model.”