Thirty people locked in a land dispute with ruling party senator and sugar tycoon Ly Yong Phat received summonses yesterday to appear in Kampong Speu provincial court.
Although the summonses don’t list a complainant, some of those called to appear in court next Tuesday said they believed Yong Phat was behind the court action.
“The company is the complainant,” Omlaing commune representative Phal Vannak said. “The landowners do not have land titles, but the plaintiff has a title he says was made in 1996 – how did the Khmer Rouge make a title for him? At the time, it was Khmer Rouge soldiers’ shelters that were here.”
Of the 30 summonsed from Thpong district, some face charges of illegally occupying land, while 19 have been called solely for questioning.
Vannak said 200 supporters would accompany the villages to court on December 17.
Among those summonsed for questioning as a witness are a village chief and a commune chief.
Chheang Kimson, a representative of Yong Phat’s Phnom Penh Sugar Company, said the case against the villagers was not related to the company and was likely a personal dispute.
“The disputes between my company and the villagers finished a long time ago – some people even work for us now. Don’t put the blame on the company.”
Since villagers began fighting eviction from their homes in February 2010, about 65 of those involved have been charged after being summonsed to court, said Ou Leng from the Housing Rights Task Force.
“In fact, the company is behind the complaints.… It is their trick to seize people’s land,” he said.
The government has granted some 65,000 hectares of economic land concessions to sugar companies in Koh Kong, Kampong Speu and Oddar Meanchey provinces. Most of the sugar produced is exported to Europe.