SIEM REAP PROVINCE
MORE than 100 police, military police and demolition workers on Thursday cleared a 3-hectare plot of land in Siem Reap’s Slakram commune claimed by opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay, destroying three homes in the process.
Son Chhay has said he purchased the land in 1995, and has accused local authorities of seizing it with the intention of turning it over to Sok Kong’s Sokimex Group for a hotel development.
However, Sok Keo Bandith, the deputy prosecutor for the Siem Reap provincial court, said Thursday that he did not know what the land would be used for, adding that he had ordered the confiscation in order to comply with a Supreme Court ruling.
“We are now handing this land over to the state’s institution, the Apsara Authority,” said Sok Keo Bandith, who accompanied the police and demolition workers to the plot on Thursday. “From this point on, this land has become state property.”
Pal Chandara, the government lawyer who handled the case for the Apsara Authority, on Thursday dismissed Son Chhay’s claim that he has documentation proving he is the rightful owner of the land.
“He used to tell several journalists that he has a land title. He does not have it. He is a liar,” Pal Chandara said.
However, Son Chhay, who was in Phnom Penh on Thursday to attend a National Assembly session, insisted that he was being forced off the land illegally, and vowed to fight the clearance operation by urging donors “to examine general land issues in Cambodia”.
“I cannot accept this injustice. We must struggle, and I must encourage Cambodia to enforce the law,” Son Chhay said.