A villager representing 50 families in a long-running dispute with a company owned by ruling party Senator Ly Yong Phat is in pre-trial detention after his Saturday arrest for allegedly installing boundary markers on disputed company land.
Lay Tiro, deputy head of the felonies office at the Koh Kong provincial police station, said Heng Sok, 48, was arrested on Friday, after Chan Nakry, manager of the LYP Group, filed a complaint against him.
He allegedly installed nine boundary posts, a crime for which he is being charged with “using violence on the property owner” under Article 253 of the Land Management Law, Tiro said. “[The] company filed [a] complaint to us,” he said, adding Sok had been sent to court, and to jail immediately afterwards.
Sok has been representing families embroiled in a dispute involving 103 hectares of land within the company’s agricultural economic land concession, which was granted in 2010 inside the Botum Sakor National Park.
Nakry said Sok lacked necessary documentation to install the boundary markers on the company’s land.
However, In Kong Chit, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, said the villagers had been farming there since 2001, though none of them live there.
“People represented by Heng Sok [had] filed a request to cut the land,” he said, adding that provincial officials had never found a solution for them.
“We think that for this case, it is very unfair for the people.”