Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villager rep held over burning firm’s timber

Villager rep held over burning firm’s timber

Villager rep held over burning firm’s timber

A representative for villagers living in Ratanakkiri’s O’Chum district who say that buyers from a local company failed to uphold a 2007 land deal has been charged and temporarily detained by local authorities for allegedly destroying private property.

Haing Noeur, 50, was detained on Saturday after plantation owner Ly Sok Ngim filed a lawsuit against him, alleging that Noeur burned timber destined to build huts on his land, said Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc.

“That land dispute involves 66 families and Ly Sok Ngim, but authorities did not intervene, and the workers keep clearing the forest on the disputed land. There is no other option but burning down the material to stop the clearing,” Thy said.

In March, an Adhoc investigation revealed that Seng Visith and his wife, Sek Sopheak Soeur Monea, who together owned a majority share of the now bankrupt VKM Company, promised to give villagers $20,000 and to build bridges, roads, schools and a village hall.

The investigation also revealed that former owners of the 400 hectares in dispute were in debt to Sok Ngim. A court ruling in February transferred five properties – including the 400 disputed hectares – to Sok Ngim.

Workers employed by Sok Ngim have been clearing the community forest unabated since early March, according to Chhay, claiming that the area had been awarded to Sok Ngim by Judge Luch Lao.

“Both sides in this case, the community villagers and Ly Sok Ngim, have filed lawsuits against each other over the illegal land grabbing but the court only takes action against the simple citizen,” Chhay continued, adding that efforts to provide legal aid to Noeur were under way.

District police chief Hak Lao confirmed yesterday that authorities arrested Noeur on Friday for allegedly burning 10 cubic metres of wood.

“He poured gasoline [on the wood] and burned it down and dismissed the workers. We arrested him based on the law,” Lao said.

Neither Judge Luch Lao nor Sok Ngim could not be reached for comment yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Cambodia planning new border checkpoint at Thma Da

    Cambodia is looking into the possibility of opening a new Thma Da Border Checkpoint with Thailand to boost trade and tourism. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said on December 4 that Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol led a technical working group