Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Oddar Meanchey villagers to leave contested forest

Oddar Meanchey villagers to leave contested forest

Oddar Meanchey villagers to leave contested forest

MILITARY families have agreed to vacate a section of protected forest land in Oddar Meanchey province after Forestry Administration officials filed a series of complaints against them, and one of two men accused of fraudulently selling the land denied the allegation on Monday.

The complaints were filed to the Interior Ministry and the Siem Reap provincial court last week, following an altercation in which members of the families allegedly opened fire on Forestry Administration officials and physically assaulted 10 of them.

Von Bunthoeun, the chief of the Forestry Administration office in Samraong town, said an agreement was reached with the families last Thursday.

“We have a contract with Hean Sok, the deputy of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces in Samraong, who encouraged about 200 soldiers and their families to shelter illegally in the protected forest community, and they will tear down the huts,” he said.

“There is no deadline yet, but they must tear down the huts as soon as possible.”

Hean Sok confirmed Sunday that the families would move, though he denied having pocketed money for the land from the families.

Von Bonthoeun had previously accused Hean Sok and Kim Saruon, the chief of a village located some 50 kilometres away from the protected forest area, of taking between US$300 and $350 for 30-metre-by-50-metre plots of land.

“We did not sell the land to villagers. They came to live by themselves,” Hean Sok said. “People accused me of persuading people and soldiers to live here and sell the land to the villagers, but in the name of RCAF it isn’t true.”

Kim Saruon could not be reached on Monday.

Forestry officials have said the section of land was granted protected status last June, but that 10 families moved there in late 2009. That number has since climbed to 200.

Thon Nol, the governor of Samraong town, said officials were looking for new land for the families. He added that they might be offered
somewhere to stay in a temporary settlement until suitable plots are located.

“We will try our best to move them from the protected forest area soon,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • US to ramp up sanctions after ‘flawed’ national polls

    At a press conference on Wednesday, the US State Department announced that it would expand visa sanctions on the Cambodian officials and individuals it deems responsible for “undermining democracy” in Cambodia. At the briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that the department regarded the July 29 elections

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National