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Intervention sought in land dispute

Intervention sought in land dispute

Twelve representatives of 50 families in Preah Vihear’s Kulen district are seeking aid from a rights group after being summonsed to court last week over a land dispute with a Malaysian company.

The villagers gathered in Adhoc’s provincial office in Srayong commune yesterday to draft and submit a joint letter requesting further intervention, provincial coordinator Lor Chann said.

“They are afraid of being imprisoned without reason,” Chann said.

Signed by provincial deputy prosecutor Long Sitha and dated November 6, the warrant lists the plaintiff as Fephy Malaysia (Cambodia) and requests villagers appear for questioning related to “property damage and illegal clearing of state lands”, Chann said.

Toch Sombol, 40, one of the 12 representatives, told the Post that locals had been clearing land for farming since 2002, but this year nearly 250 hectares of crops and land has been razed by the company.

But District Governor Chum Puy alleges the villagers were occupying the state forest illegally despite authorities divvying up 3,000 of the 8,200 hectares awarded to the company in 2012.

Sitha and Fephy Malaysia could not be reached for comment.