Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawsuit filed against local Mondulkiri leaders

Lawsuit filed against local Mondulkiri leaders

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ten Vietnamese and two Cambodian dealers were arrested on January 1 for secretly digging up natural stones. Supplied

Lawsuit filed against local Mondulkiri leaders

Two separate complaints were filed at the Mondulkiri Provincial Court against four people including the first deputy chief of Bou Sra commune, in Pech Chreada district, and a provincial deputy governor.

The case concerned the issuance of land titles on forest land and secretly digging up natural stones in the commune. However, the defendants have denied the allegations.

The first complaint was filed on Wednesday by Pen Bunna, 58, a resident of Chroy Changvar district and an official of rights group Adhoc, and Bunong indigenous peoples residing in Bou Sra commune Kroeung Tola, 30; Brob Tuch, 58; Kvang Chol, 42; Srob Korn, 69, and Saing Soeurn, 56.

The defendants identified as Keng Nhak, the first deputy chief of Bou Sra commune, and Chhim Kan, the provincial deputy governor, were sued for issuing six property ownership certificates, four fact sheets and four ownership transfer letters over forest land.

“According to Old Policy for New Activity No 001 in 2012, only farming land is to be granted to citizens while state forest land cannot be sold, bought and transferred. But the law was violated in Mondulkiri province,” the complaint said.

Tola said they had taken the letters and certificates from the owners directly. Having checked the documents, they saw that the land is within state forest cover.

Issuing forest land titles and buying, selling and transferring such land to be certified by forestry authorities, he said, were criminal offences.

The land owners claimed there were more land ownership transfer and occupation letters.

“So, we will file a request to the prosecutor to open an investigation and take legal action against the offenders. We demand that the six property ownership certificates, four fact sheets and four ownership transfer letters of forest cover be invalidated.

“We also demand that the forest be considered state property,” said Tola.

Bunna, the local community empowerment programme officer for Adhoc, said it was within the peoples’ rights to file a complaint once they see irregularities committed by law enforcement officials.

“According to our past research, the issuance of land titles contradicted the Royal Government’s sub-decree 001.

“So, we must file the complaints in order to open investigations and reclaim the forest land as state property,” said Bunna.

Kan said he had not been apprised of the complaint filed against him by the indigenous community but claimed that what he had so far implemented was in accordance with the law.

He said during his time as the head of the provincial Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction in 2012, he had always obeyed the law and had not committed any offence.

“I don’t know how to respond to them. Let the court handle the case according to legal procedure. I did not commit any wrongdoing and have always abided by the law,” he said.

The second complaint was similarly filed by the six plaintiffs at the provincial court on Thursday accusing two Bou Sra commune residents Ket Pleut, 39, and Neurb Taun, 41, of secretly digging up natural stones on January 1.

Tola said he received a police report regarding the offence on January 2, following the arrest of 10 Vietnamese and two Cambodian dealers at the site.

“We were on our way to the natural stone site when we saw 10 Vietnamese and two Cambodian dealers walking away from it. We saw marks indicating that stones had been dug up.

“A day later, I received four phone calls. The speaker tried to negotiate with me for the community to sell the stones from between $100,000 and $200,000. But I refused and reported it,” he said.

Both Pleut and Taun could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Provincial court spokesman Meas Bros said on Thursday that he had already received the complaint from the indigenous community and is currently checking the matter before forwarding it to the prosecutor.

“Once it reaches the prosecutor’s hands, he will conduct his own investigation. But I don’t know when those involved will be summoned,” said Bros.

MOST VIEWED

  • Draft law on state of emergency pending finalisation

    Prime Minister Hun Sen will lead a top-level meeting on Tuesdays to review the draft law on imposing a state of emergency. Meantime, he has decided to close all casinos in Cambodia effective April 1. In the press conference after the National Assembly met today, Hun

  • Stranded passengers petition UK for help

    Some 10,521 foreigners in Cambodia, the bulk being from the UK, have signed an online petition calling on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and relevant officials to fly them out of the Kingdom. The petition is targeted at 15,000 foreigners. Among them are nearly 200 Europeans, the majority

  • Covid-19 Pandemic: Force majeure and legal consequences

    Is the Covid-19 pandemic considered an event of force majeure? The World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak a pandemic on March 11. Following this declaration, the Ministry of Health and other ministries have taken various legal and administrative measures to prevent the rapid

  • PM set to mend ties with US

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has responded to US Congressman Ted Yoho, saying he is ready to improve Cambodia-US relations, and not take up issues of disagreements which have become a barrier between the two countries’ bilateral cooperation. His response to Yoho came after the congressman

  • Mysterious century-old structure found at bottom of Angkor pond

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a mysterious 1,000-year-old structure of a wooden building at the bottom of a pond after the Angkor Wat temple’s conservation team completed restoring its northern cave. The deputy director at ANA’s Angkor International Research and Documentation

  • NBC’s directive to restructure credit targeting four sectors

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) on Friday issued a directive to all banks and financial institutions to restructure credit for loans in four priority sectors, a move lauded by the private sector. The directive aims to maintain financial stability, support economic activity and ease