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

  • Archeologists find ancient phallic statue

    An archeological team has found a metre-long tipless stone linga (penis) of the Hindu deity Shiva in the foundations of a temple in Kratie province’s historical Samphu Borak area, a former capital of the pre-Angkor Empire Chenla period. Thuy Chanthourn, the deputy director of

  • China steel company relocates to Cambodia

    Chinese state-owned iron and steel company China Baowu Steel Group Corp Ltd has unveiled plans to relocate its blast furnaces from Xinjiang Autonomous Region in the northwest of China to Cambodia, which will be the first overseas Baowu production plant, a Reuters report on Wednesday

  • Chinese push up Sihanoukville property prices

    The presence of Chinese investors and tourists in Sihanoukville continued to push real estate transactions and increase prices in the city, with major construction activities underway, say property insiders. Previously, local property insiders predicted that real estate transactions in Preah Sihanouk province would begin to

  • Gov’t unconcerned by Kem Sokha ‘release’ bill tabled in US Senate

    The government was unconcerned by a bill put to the US Senate last week that demands the “release” of Kem Sokha, the president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), its spokesman told The Post on Wednesday. The bill also calls for the