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Local officials summonsed over Ratanakkiri land deal

Villagers involved in a land dispute in Ratanakkiri province gather yesterday. Adhoc
Villagers involved in a land dispute in Ratanakkiri province gather yesterday. Adhoc

Local officials summonsed over Ratanakkiri land deal

The Ratanakkiri Provincial Court yesterday summonsed two local officials for questioning over allegations that the two were linked to illegal land clearing.

Ro Cham Hleuy, Paknhai commune chief, and Klan Chib, Pak Thum village chief, are both alleged to have approved the unauthorised sale of protected land in Phi village, according to a complaint filed by the Forestry Administration in provincial court about a month ago.

Leng Youk, head of the local Forestry Administration office, said the land in question covered six plots totalling 42 hectares, and had been subsequently cleared and occupied without permission from the Forestry Administration.

“We sued the one who bought the land,” he said. “But the village and commune chief are linked, because they signed off on the sale.”

Officials with the Forestry Administration visited the site on January 8 in Phi village in O’Yadav district.

Chib denied the accusation of involvement in land clearing, saying it was done by villagers who have been farming there for a long time.

He also denied the land, which is located about 2 kilometres from the village, is in a protected area.

However, Ma Vicheth, O’Yadav district governor, insisted the land in question is located in a protected area.

He added that his team had gone to the community twice already to explain that to the villagers.

Provincial court investigating judge San Bunthoeun couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.

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