The Koh Kong provincial authorities said the land reclamation work in Smach Meanchey commune in Khemarak Phumin town has already been put back to its original state while the court spokesman said legal procedures are being taken against Tun Dieth, the two-star major general held responsible for it.
Koh Kong provincial hall spokesman Sok Sothy told The Post that reclamation of the sea measured three metres wide and 43 metres long and had filled the Koh Por creek. It was dredged at the end of last year after a three-day operation starting December 23.
He said in principle action must be taken against Dieth in accordance with the law and without fear or favour.
“If there is any violation, we must act. At no time have we not taken action against perpetrators. In the case of Dieth, why should we not take legal action? Anyone violating [the law] must be punished in accordance with the law,” Sothy said.
Un Sovantheany, the spokesman for the Koh Kong provincial court prosecutor’s office, said briefly that the case is still in the midst of proceedings, and could not say if Dieth will be summoned.
On December 23, last year, Koh Kong provincial court prosecutor Ros Saraim led authorities and technical officials to inspect the illegal land reclamation work on orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Following the inspection, a decision was made to temporarily suspend Dieth’s business. He was also required to dredge the soil that was used to reclaim the sea in Smach Meanchey commune, in Koh Kong province’s Khemarak Phumin town.
Dieth could not be reached for comment by press time.
On December 22, the prime minister ordered Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara and Koh Kong provincial governor Mithona Phouthorng to act against Dieth, who was also warned that he would be removed from office if he was found to have reclaimed the land.
Bey Vanny, the coordinator for Rights Group Adhoc in Koh Kong province, said while he applauded the action to save the sea, Dieth has only been threatened with legal action but has so far not been punished in accordance with the law.
Vanny said he wanted to see all violators of the sea and state land punished under the law, especially crimes committed by public officials who ought to know better.
He said: “We want to see law enforcement in other places where there are coastal violations and grabbing of State land. Provincial administrations must conduct investigations and use their power to inspect and protect State land in other areas as well.
“We applaud the law enforcement which is a part of providing social justice. It also shows equality under the law regardless of a person’s social status.”
Articles 17 to 19 of the Land Law 2001 stipulate procedures and protection of State property while Article 259 prescribes a fine of between five and 50 million riel, and between one and five years imprisonment for anyone found guilty of violating public land.