Three Phnom Penh residents embroiled in a land dispute with tycoon Khun Sear, who boasts high-level connections to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, have been summonsed to appear in court next week.
Three families living on a patch of rubble-strewn land in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district claim that representatives of Khun Sear Import Export Co have waged a campaign of intimidation against them since 2013, when the company was awarded rights to the land they claim to have lived on since 1982.
In a writ dated May 8, Phnom Penh municipal prosecutor Chet Khemera, acting on behalf of Sear, called on Li Sivmey, 24, and Ly Bunheang, 19, to be summonsed to appear in court on May 22 on charges of “destroying and violently grabbing the other party’s property”
In a similar complaint, another resident involved in the dispute in Boeung Kak 1 commune, Sok Hoch, was called to appear in court on May 23.
Sivmey yesterday said that she was undeterred by the court action.
“I am not afraid of anything since we have not done anything wrong as we are accused by Khun Sear. I believe that the court will seek justice,” she said.
The Ministry of Commerce lists Yim Leang, son of Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly and head of Senate President Chea Sim’s bodyguard unit, as Sear’s business partner.
The court action came only a day after the latest round of negotiations over compensation, ongoing since Friday, resulted in representatives of Sear making two separate compensation offers of $70,000 and $30,000.
The Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF), which is acting as a negotiator for the families, yesterday said the charges were a ploy to pressure the families into capitulating.
“I know from meetings with the authorities that they want a resolution to this case, but it is difficult,” said Nan Ony, HRTF legal officer.
“Lim Yeang is very connected and so is his father, Yim Chhay Ly, so the authorities cannot fully implement their wishes,” he added. “I must come to the conclusion that the company and court are working together to force the families to accept the compensation offer.”