The Koh Kong Provincial Court on Tuesday heard the testimony of 13 families locked in a land dispute with Chinese company Union Development Group (UDG) after their crops and property were razed.

The families, from two villages in Prek Khsach commune, Kiri Sakor district, claim that in January of this year, some 60 security guards allegedly burned their crops along with some huts that were standing on land allotted to the company. More farmland was destroyed, allegedly by UDG excavators, earlier this month.

While the villagers admit that they do not own land titles, they are seeking compensation for the destruction of their cassava, jackfruit, mango, rubber and coconut crops.

Sem Thy, a representative of the plaintiffs, said he did not have much hope in the court process as the Chinese company “has a strong influence” in the province.

“I have no hope to win the case with this company because all levels of authority do not dare to solve the case because it is very influential,” he said.

“They are clearing the land without fearing anyone.”

UDG representative Kem Leng could not be reached for comment.