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Land Rights: Ex-soldiers camp out in land dispute

Land Rights: Ex-soldiers camp out in land dispute

Land Rights
A group of 50 veterans from Banteay Meanchey province have been camped out in Phnom Penh for 11 days awaiting a response to a complaint filed with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet over a land dispute involving a military official. The veterans represent 338 families from Malai district who have been in dispute with Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Lieutenant Colonel Preab Sarum over 100 hectares of land in Tuol Pongro commune since April 2009, when he allegedly sold their land to businessman Puth Si Ngob. Nuo Leng, a representative of the group, said the land in question was included in a 549-hectare concession granted to the soldiers in 1997. Chhim Mach, another representative, accused Tuol Pongro commune chief Tim Morn and Malai district governor Tep Khunnal of colluding with Preab Sarun, pointing to the arrest in May 2009 of five villagers involved in the dispute. All five remain in custody. But Tim Morn said the land falls within a protected forest area. Tep Khunnal, Preab Sarun and Lim Leang Se, deputy chief of Hun Sen’s cabinet, could not be reached for comment.

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