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Villagers guard land in dispute

Villagers guard land in dispute

More than 100 families in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district gathered yesterday to prevent local authorities seizing land on behalf of a former provincial governor, who is embroiled in another dispute with the wife of a former politician.

Khorn Kea, 30, a resident of Samrong Thom commune’s Prek Treng village, said yesterday that police had been ordered to surround the land.

“We saw dozens of police arriving at the commune office on Monday to fence our land, so we are waiting here to protect it,” he said.

In 2001, the Appeal Court awarded former deputy provincial governor Prak Savuth, now Kratie provincial council chief, 46 hectares of land. However,  114 families claim  to have lived there since 1979.

Heng Theam, Kien Svay district governor, said yesterday: “We aren’t taking the houses of 114 families, but empty land like ricefields belongs to [Prak Savuth].” But Ouch Leng, head of the land program at rights group Adhoc, said that the Appeal Court had not fully investigated the case.

As Prak Savuth’s claim to one piece of land was made clear, another faltered.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court overturned a 2007 verdict awarding Prak Savuth 13 hectares in Kandal province in a separate dispute with Chea Kim, the wife of former Funcinpec secretary of state Ho Sok – who was killed during factional fighting between Funcinpec and the Cambodian People’s Party in 1997. Khoeung Natt, a representative of Chea Kim, said Monday that Prak Savuth had fabricated a land title and said he would file complaints to the Anti-Corruption Unit against government and court officials.

Prak Savuth could not be reached yesterday.

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