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Justice minister wants Battambang land dispute resolved

Justice minister wants Battambang land dispute resolved

Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vattana has weighed in on a prolonged land dispute at the Battambang Provincial Court that has seen three protestors shot and another imprisoned.

The dispute between Suon Mean Sambath Company and 135 families in Sampov Loun district, where 600 hectares of farming and residential land remain affected, was sparked by an economic land concession granted in 2011.

In that same year, company guards allegedly shot at protesters, injuring three, in neighbouring Phnom Proek district.

On January 31 this year, Battambang Provincial Court issued an arrest warrant for villager Chhorn Chhat over the land dispute.

In a letter dated April 29, the justice minister demanded the parties involved “resolve the complaint properly based on the legal procedures” without offering specific direction.

Meanwhile, representatives from another 185 families in Chhouk district, Kampot, made an appeal to the Ministry of Interior to intervene in a separate dispute with three different companies.

Building on a trend of families appealing directly to government officials after Prime Minister Hun Sen’s intervention in the case of two jailed Kampong Speu women last month, the protestors called on the government to accelerate the process and oust village chief Ich Koy, whom they accuse of serving the interests of his own family and friends in the case.

Koy could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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