SIX villagers in Pursat province’s Krakor district have been summonsed to court after local conglomerate Pheapimex Group filed a complaint accusing them of destroying private property, villagers said yesterday. The six, from Ansar Chambak commune, are due to appear in court on Monday in connection with the long-running dispute, which began in 2008, when Pheapimex began bulldozing land for development.
Village representative Sok Chan Roeun said he was surprised to receive the summons. “We didn’t do what they have accused us of and do not have enough time to find a lawyer,” he said. “We have to ask [the court] for a delay”.
One villager, Lach Sarun, said he suspected that Commune Chief Lanh Sithon gave villagers’ names to Pheapimex. Lanh Sithon denied the claims. “I am not involved in reporting villagers’ names to the company,” he said.
In November, 12 villagers from four communes in Krakor district were summonsed to court after Pheapimex filed a complaint against them. Pheapimex - owned by Choeung Sopheap, the wife of ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin - was granted a 315,028-hectare concession to develop land in Kampong Chhnang and Pursat. Pursat deputy provincial governor and Pheapimex representative Ty Kimtok could not be reached for comment.