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Ministry suspends verdict

Ministry suspends verdict

The Ministry of Justice has ordered authorities in Preah Sihanouk province to suspend enforcement of a Supreme Court verdict issued in connection with a land dispute between 70 families and an official from the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port.

On October 28, the Supreme Court granted a land title for five hectares to Chan Kang, director of the petrol management office at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, giving villagers from Sihanoukville town’s commune 1 until November 4 to evacuate their homes.

Nearly 100 residents blocked National Road 4 last Sunday to protest against the verdict.

According to a letter dated November 3 and obtained by the Post yesterday, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana wrote to the provincial court requesting that it suspend compliance with the verdict and report to the ministry on legal measures to find justice for the villagers.

Villager Houn Chan Dara, 37, said  the ministry had issued the letter ordering provincial authorities not to evict the families.

Another resident, Chear Sophaon, 55, said villagers had been living in the area for a long time. “I was so happy when I saw the letter,” she said.

Chan Kang said it was the Ministry’s decision but he had documents confirming his ownership of the land, which he claimed to have bought in 1999.

“We had a problem with villagers in 2005, but in 2009, I got a concession from Seng Lim Nov, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers,” he said.

Chan Kang told the Post last week the provincial court and Appeal Court had initially ruled against him. Seng Lim Nov could not be reached for comment.

Provincial court deputy Kim Eng declined to comment on the dispute.