Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophorn is investigating the case of a plot of state land in Takhmao town that was allegedly grabbed by provincial deputy police chief Sreng Sokha.
Sokha is alleged to have pressured local authorities to sign the relevant documents and hand over the plot to him.
Sophorn told The Post on Monday that he did not allow any grabbing of state land, included flooded land owned by that state. He said legal action would be taken to seize it if the allegations were found to be true.
However, he said he had yet to confirm if the land in question was grabbed, and by whom.
“Sub-national level authorities cannot just take state land. We are now investigating and shall act according to the law. The land in question is listed as state land and under the management of the provincial authorities,” he said.
Sophorn made his remarks in response to a media report on March 2 which claimed that at the closing of the congress to review last year’ work, Mao Phearun, the chairman of the Kandal provincial council, ordered provincial police chief Chhoeun Socheth to remove Sokha from his position as provincial deputy police chief.
The report further claimed that the order came because Sokha had used Phearun’s name to order a Roka Kpos commune chief to sign documents allocating 41ha of state land to him (Sokha) for private ownership.
Phearun was then the Kandal provincial governor.
When contacted, Socheth declined to comment and referred questions to Sophorn, while Phearun could not be reached on Monday.
Kandal provincial Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department director Buntoun Simona said on Monday that he could not comment on the matter, claiming he was busy at a meeting.
His deputy, Khleang Vanthol, also declined to comment as the land was not under the management of the agricultural department but the province.
According to the layout of a plot signed by Koh Kor village chief Sin Yuon and Roka Kpos commune chief Chhoeung Chho, Sokha owned 41ha in the village.
Earlier last year, the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) launched a probe into Sokha after complaints that he may have committed corruption as he flaunted money and jewellery at an engagement ceremony.
He is also said to have shown off an expensive car which was above his affordability.
Following the probe, ACU chief Om Yentieng said Sokha was not found to have done anything wrong. All the items posted on social media involved fake diamonds while the car was borrowed, he said.
Sokha could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Fresh News reported on March 6 that he denied he had used Phearun’s name to pressure the commune chief and grab state land. He said he had purchased the land when he was a lower-level official and before he even knew Phearun.
“I bought the land before I was promoted to provincial deputy police chief. I was an unimportant person and didn’t even know him [Phearun] then.
“Until now, I have not done anything to the land. I just bought it and only filed a letter seeking additional formalities.
“I have never used his [Phearun’s] position to do anything at all. Besides, I do not want to smear the name of my unit,” Sokha said.