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Jarai forest case gets its chance on appeal

Jarai forest case gets its chance on appeal

The Appeal Court has taken up a land-grab case originally dropped by the Ratanakkiri Provincial Court, summonsing the leaders of a Jarai ethnic minority community who accuse Chea Chanrith Aphivath Co Ltd of illegally bulldozing their homes.

Sal Ny, a representative of 115 families from Lumchor commune in O’Yadav district who are fighting an economic land concession (ELC) overlapping with their community forest, said police handed a summons to them on Saturday night to appear in court yesterday.

“We could not travel there on time as scheduled, so I have asked for them to put it off until the 16th,” he said yesterday.

“Our complaint is asking the company to reforest the trees they have cut from 30 hectares of [our] land, and $10,000 in restitution to the community and to buy buffalos for a traditional ceremony,” he said.

Chea Chanrith Aphivath, representatives of which could not be reached yesterday, was granted a 659-hectare ELC last October to plant rubber in Bakeo and O’Yadav districts.

Villagers complained to the court in November after the company cleared 30 hectares of their 481-hectare community forest, but the complaint was dropped without explanation.

Pann Kim Lean, the Appeal Court prosecutor who signed the summons, could not be reached for comment.