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Vendors seek help from top court

Vendors seek help from top court

MORE than  a hundred vendors from Memot Market in Kampong Cham province have appealed to the Supreme Court for intervention in a dispute with a private investor over part of a state-owned market being claimed as private property.

Since 2007, Ly Kimleng has ordered vendors to leave a section of the market he claims to own, so he can develop it as real estate. Vendors there have contested his right to obtain state-owned property.

The vendors arrived Monday in Phnom Penh to hear an Appeal Court decision, and, after a ruling against them, filed a complaint the same day with the Supreme Court, said Chhoeun Sokha, the vendors' representative.

"The Supreme Court is our last hope," he said.  

According to Chhoeun Sokha, the market has existed as state-owned property since 1979, and vendors were required to pay a small rental fee to local authorities. But since 2001, vendors operating along a walkway renovated by Ly Kimleng have been required to pay him a US$150 to $280 fee every three years, and, since 2007, they have been asked to leave their stalls altogether, he said.

Memot district Governor Choek Sa Orn said by phone Thursday that the market has remained state-owned, but part of it was given to Ly Kimleng in a concession.

"He helped us renovate the market from a dirty place into a beautiful one," he said.  

He said other vendors had the choice to simply move to stalls in the market not belonging to Ly Kimleng.

Ly Kimleng could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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