The Pursat Provincial Court yesterday decided to drop charges against seven villagers accused in 2011 of destroying private property in a long-running land dispute with the prominent developer Pheapimex Group.
“The court dropped the charges of destroying company’s property, and the $400,000 compensation that the company demanded was also declined,” said Mith Samuon, an investigator for the rights group Licadho, who attended the announcement yesterday morning.
It remains unclear what the villagers are accused of having destroyed. The complaint was filed after locals stopped Pheapimex bulldozers from clearing land they maintained was theirs. The company was granted a 315,028-hectare concession in Pursat and Kampong Chhnang provinces.
One of the accused, Lach Saran, 41, said he was happy about the result “because I do not have money and time to travel to the court for the case anymore”.
The clerk in charge of the case, Touch Sophal, confirmed it was dropped, but declined to comment further, and contact information for a Pheapimex representative could not be found.