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Officials questioned over land deal

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Officials came under fire for allegedly planning to sell land in the protected Ang Trapaing Thmar area in Banteay Meanchey province. Photo supplied

Officials questioned over land deal

Five Phnom Srok district officials were called before the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Administration to explain accusations that they were attempting to sell state land in the protected Ang Trapaing Thmar area that included land belonging to security offices and three armed forces units, a court spokesman said.

Deputy provincial governor Ly Sary identified the officials as Phnom Srok district deputy governor Sao Len, chief of land management office Phnom Srok district Tang Phan, and Poy Char commune chief Khouth Khoun. The other two officials are Sok Rithy and Thoun Lamhinh.

Besides the five, the provincial administration plans to call other related individuals to explain the issue.

“After questioning these five officers, the provincial administration has allowed them to go back to work,” the court spokesman said.

The five were brought in after the heads of the district police, Military Police and military claimed that deputy district governor Yim Samnang had colluded with the land management chief, residents and outside business people to fill a pond and sell a 36m by 92m swath of property that includes the offices located in Poy Char commune, Phnom Srok district.

Phnom Srok district governor Yim Samnang told The Post on Tuesday that there is no such case of selling the offices and removing the Trapaing Thmar reservoir.

“I was shocked to hear this news,” Samnang said. The locations reported are land that belongs to residents not the units,” he said.

Poy Char commune chief Khoun told The Post that the report was not true but questioning from provincial administration is a good thing because the truth came out.

“I explained to the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Administration already and we gave a report and other documents related to development,” he said.

Khoun said since the Ang Trapaing Thma became a popular recreational area for national and international tourists, the locals have become better off. He said houses have improved and some people put soil on their land to prevent flood in the rainy season.

Phnom Srok Military Police chief Sin Deab told The Post that the location was given to security forces by the previous Phnom Srok governor, Seng Ty, in 2012 to build offices for officers to provide security to tourists.

Deab said that last year people came to fill the land by saying that they bought it and had permission from authorities. He said he therefore knew that corrupt officials sold the land to outside business people.

“After that Phnom Srok deputy military commander Yin Kunthak and district police chief Yorth Sophal and I made the report to the provincial administration for intervention to protect the location for security offices because it is state land,” he said.

“We demand to protect this location for security offices and not for sale to any individuals,” he said. “We want the provincial administration to investigate carefully and transparently.”

Banteay Meanchey deputy governor Ly Sari who called Phnom Srok administration officers in for questioning told The Post on Tuesday that provincial administration is proceeding with legal procedure to question and further investigate the case but is not accusing any officers yet.

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