A Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) activist remains on the run months after the Kampong Cham
provincial court accused him of destroying private property in a complex land dispute.
Party leader Sam Rainsy said the case against Lay Horn, 50, a popular leader in his
commune, was politically motivated.
Horn fled his home village of Andong Svay, Prey Kak commune, Stung Trang district
of Kampong Cham a few days before the provincial court investigating judge Sim Kuch
issued an arrest warrant on July 17, 2007. The court accused Horn and several villagers
of destroying private property and grabbing villagers' lands, but Horn argued that
he has grown soy beans on the five hectares of land since 2005.
The Post caught up with Horn this week. "I did not commit what they accused
me of. I have evidence to prove that I occupied the land," Horn, an SRP activist
for the commune since 2002, said in an interview. "I think the land issue is
not a case, it has politics behind it."
Sam Rainsy said Horn is a popular SRP party member in the commune of Prey Kak. He
led the community in a protest for the return of 431 hectares of land from Sim Vanna,
which caused problems with the authorities from the Cambodian People's Party.
"I think it is absolutely politically motivated," Rainsy said. "He
[Horn] had support from the grassroots so they tried to disturb and fault him all
On November 10, 2007 police arrested Horn's daughters, Lay Srey Leap, 22, and Lay
Srey Mom, 25, and her 8-month-old baby, detaining them at the provincial prison.
They were released November 21 after their relatives and other SRP members intervened.
Horn said police arrested his daughters at the farm when they could not get hold
"They intended to arrest all the members of the family," Horn said. "I'm
not returning home until the case was solved."
Horn said the Kampong Cham provincial court did not investigate the case well and
accused him of grabbing the land and finally issued a warrant to arrest him.
Since 2002, Horn and other 133 families in the village have been protesting against
the land taken from them by Sim Vanna, former director general of state-owned Boeng
Ket rubber plantation. On February 10 Prime Minister Hun Sen intervened to cut off
431 hectares to divide among the people. Horn gained in popularity and he was finally
elected as Prey Kak commune councilor at the April 2007 local election by the villagers.
According to documents obtained by the Post, villagers had accused Horn and his colleague
of threatening to get money from them for their effort to get the land back. Some
who disagreed filed a complaint with the district authority and on July 6, governor
Kao Sok An wrote to provincial governor Hun Neng to intervene.
Yin Hak Ley, a human rights monitor of Licadho at Kampong Cham, who has followed
the case, said the two daughters were arrested on warrants because they were planting
on the disputed land. "It is very complicated issue," Hak Ley said. "I
cannot say who is right or wrong. Let the court find the truth."
Chhay Koson, Kampong Cham deputy police commissioner, said the case was not politically
motivated, but is a complicated land dispute.