Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Five arrested over Sihanoukville land dispute

Five arrested over Sihanoukville land dispute

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Five arrested over Sihanoukville land dispute

Sihanoukville police are interrogating five men accused of squatting on land near a rail line in Lek 1 commune, a local official said on Sunday.

Chhit Sophat, Lek 1 commune chief, told The Post that on Saturday a group of people gathered and allegedly built a house on land five to 10 metres from the railway line. They reasoned they were entitled to it as they were poor and the land was vacant, he said.

Police arrested five members of the group seen as the ringleaders – In Buntheoun, 42, Ngin Sokhun, 55, Uon Chhunleang, 57, Boeun Vanna, 67; and Chhun Saret, 53.

“At the moment they are under interrogation by Sihanoukville police,” Sophat said.

Sihanoukville police chief Pol Phosda told The Post it wasn’t the first time the five were accused of encroaching on state land. They had previously cleared forest land and more recently had joined land disputes in other parts of Preah Sihanouk.

“Under an excuse of being poor and living in a rental house, they illegally built a house along the railway, claiming the land was vacant,” Phosda said.

Sok Sokhom, head of the Cambodian National Research Organisation, who observed the arrests, said it was possible the group was being paid by a businessman to squat there.

“We do not know if they did it by themselves or with incitement from another party. But if there is no powerful or rich person backing them, they might not dare do it. In this case, it seems like there was an arrangement of some sort,” Sokhom said.

He said the authorities should investigate to avoid public perception they only punished the poor while the powerful people backing them went free.

MOST VIEWED

  • EU parliament’s 13-point vote to decide on possible sanctions

    The European Parliament is due to vote on Thursday on a 13-point resolution on Cambodia – which includes a call for the treason charges against bailed opposition leader Kem Sokha to be dropped – a threat that could see the EU enforce a range of sanctions against

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • PM vows to ‘protect’ Chinese interests

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday told Chinese companies investing in Cambodia not to worry about contract cancellation in the Kingdom. Speaking at a roundtable meeting with business executives in China as co-chair of the China-Asean Expo, the prime minister told six Chinese conglomerates with