REPRESENTATIVES of 64 families in Kampong Chhnang province petitioned the provincial court on Thursday in an attempt to spur officials to hasten the processing of their case against a commune chief accused of illegally selling land to the spouse of a government minister.
The dispute, which dates back to 2001, centres on a 145-hectare plot of farmland in Kampong Tralach district’s Ta Ches commune that is claimed both by the families and by the KDC International Company, headed by Chea Kheng, the wife of Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem.
Muong Sean, a clerk at the provincial court, said 10 representatives from Lorpeang village gathered in front of the court on Thursday and demanded that a hearing date be set soon in the villagers’ case against Ta Ches commune chief Dy Doeun, who they claim illegally sold their land to KDC in 2007.
Reach Seima, a representative of the 64 families, said Thursday that according to a 2008 assessment carried out by provincial court prosecutor Ek Cheng Huot, the thumbprints used in the sale of the land did not belong to the villagers.
“We demand justice and that our 145 hectares of rice fields be given back to us,” he said.
In May, the villagers also requested the release of seven people who were jailed in connection with the land row between 2002 and 2009.
When contacted on Thursday, Dy Doeun said he “did not care” about the villagers’ allegations and would gladly defend himself in court. “I will face them at the court hearing and answer questions in front of the judge,” he said.