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Koh Kong families ask for delay of eviction

Koh Kong families ask for delay of eviction

MEMBERS of 43 families in Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel district whose land is at the heart of a dispute involving two feuding businessmen have asked the Supreme Court to postpone their eviction, a representative of the families said Thursday.

“We are worried that the provincial court will come to evict us, so [Wednesday] we went to Phnom Penh to deliver a letter to the Supreme Court asking the judges to issue a verdict to stop them from evicting us,” said representative Tep Hai.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that the land belonged to two businessmen, Sok Hong and Heng Huy.

Sre Ambel district officials signalled that the eviction would be carried out on October 27. Instead, police officers escorted provincial court Deputy Judge Meas Vatanea to the site, where he read the June ruling aloud. He also marked how the land would be divided, with most going to Heng Huy, who has said he plans to turn it into a cassava farm.

Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho who has been following the case, said at the time that he expected the eviction to be carried out “within a matter of weeks”, though he noted that the authorities had not provided a specific date.

Tep Hai said Thursday that the lack of communication from provincial officials had left the families concerned.

“We are worried because they are quiet,” he said. “We’ve had bad experiences already, and because they are quiet we are worried that they are going to use the Supreme Court verdict to come and evict us soon.”

Meas Vatanea said Thursday that he was aware of no immediate plans to evict the families. Supreme Court President Dith Munty could not be reached for comment Thursday, nor could Sim Thol, chief of the provincial department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

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