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Families from Kampong Chhnang community summoned to PP Municipal Court for clarification in land sale agreement

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Villagers from the Lor Peang community present evidence to the Ministry of Justice in Phnom Penh in February. Heng Chivoan

Families from Kampong Chhnang community summoned to PP Municipal Court for clarification in land sale agreement

Kampong Chhnang province villagers from the 33 Lor Peang community families who filed a complaint to nullify a land sale agreement with KDC International have been summoned to return to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday to provide further clarification.

One of the plaintiffs, Keo Vannak, told The Post on Monday that they had been summoned again because Judge Sam Bunpov deemed that when the group appeared for the first time in February they did not provide enough evidence.

The judge asked Vannak’s group to return home and find more documents, she said.

Vannak said her group had tried and failed to find the agreement as required by the court even though they had also asked the local authorities for it.

“I went to look everywhere but couldn’t find the agreement. I did not make an agreement about the land because on the day we received the money, they did not allow us to talk about land because this money was a payment for Khmer New Year."

“’Please brothers and sisters take it and thumbprint it,’ they said. We are illiterate. So, we did not agree and filed a complaint to nullify it.

“They should not be able to take our thumbprint from that time as proof that we have received compensation from the company,” she said.

Vannak’s claim was made after Judge Bunpov issued a summons on June 13 requiring 10 Lor Peang community villagers to appear at the court on July 18 to provide further clarification over their request to nullify the agreement.

She said that even though they did not have the agreement to submit to the judge, the 10 villagers would still clarify their position verbally at the court as what is said in their complaint is the truth.

Vannak said she also wanted the court to summon the company to discuss the issue face to face with the villagers.

The land dispute with KDC, involving more than 110ha of land, has been ongoing since 2006.

Of the 49 families from Lor Peang village in Kampong Tralach district’s Ta Ches commune, 33 filed a complaint to nullify the alleged agreement with KDC that they thumb printed on July 23, 2014.

The villagers received between 1.5 and six million riel each (about $375 to $1,500) from the development company.

But they said the money was not compensation for the land and are demanding $60,000 per hectare from KDC.

Phat Pov Seang, the company’s lawyer, told The Post in February that KDC owns 500ha in the Lor Peang area, which it bought in 2007 from the real landowners who have possessed the land title since 1997 and were able to present ownership documents.

He said Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara had already recognised the company’s land ownership.

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