Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Court charges two for defamation over land dispute in Koh Kong



Court charges two for defamation over land dispute in Koh Kong

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
People gathered in front of the Koh Kong Provincial Court on November 18 to await the sentencing of their three community land representatives who were accused of defamation related to a land dispute. Photo supplied

Court charges two for defamation over land dispute in Koh Kong

Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Koh Kong Provincial Court on November 18 to await the sentencing of their three community land representatives who were accused of defamation related to a land dispute.

Provincial court prosecutor Un Sovantheany identified the three activists as Phao Nherng, Seng Lin and Khon Phon. They were sued for defamation by one of their former fellow representatives, Chhay Vy.

Vy said the three had falsely accused her of persuading people living in Sre Ambel district’s Chi Khor Leu commune to sell their community land.

Vy’s lawsuit came after 175 families in Chi Khor Leu filed a complaint to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on November 25, last year accusing her of inciting people to sell their land.

Nherng, one of the three accused, told The Post that she and Lin were charged with the defamation charge, while Phon was acquitted.

“The judge decided to release us on bail under court supervision. Whenever the authorities or court summons us, we have to go. We also have to present ourselves at the Sre Ambel district police station once a month. We are not allowed to move either,” Nherng said.

Yy Kunthea, one of the people who gathered in front of the court, said many people had turned out because they were afraid that the court would detain their representatives.

Even though they were not arrested, Kunthea said people thought it was unfair for the land representatives to be placed under court supervision.

“I see that it is very unfair for both of them because they did nothing wrong and they were [falsely] accused. They only talked about those who sold state land and shared [money] with each other. They only want to reclaim community land as state property or give it to people in the community who have no land. They did not intend to secretly sell the land,” she said.

Neither Investigating Judge Lor Krem nor prosecutor Sovantheany could be reached for comment on November 18.

In a separate case on November 17, five other community land representatives were sent to the Koh Kong Provincial Court in relation to defamation and incitement over land disputes.

They were summoned to court to contest a complaint by Heng Huy Agriculture Group, an entity owned by tycoon Heng Huy, who holds the honorific Oknha. The five defendants were released on bail but put under court supervision.

Thong Chan Dara, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said all seven of the community representatives convicted in the two cases were protesting to protect their land.

He said the charges against them for defamation and inciting chaos were “serious” and called for an in-depth investigation.

“In this case, one party sued them. But obviously, the court should investigate this matter further. I am asking for an in-depth investigation before summoning people for clarification,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants