Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers questioned over land dispute

Villagers questioned over land dispute

Villagers questioned over land dispute

Five men in Koh Kong province could be prosecuted for stealing from a construction crew after the group allegedly seized tools in January, preventing the construction team from building fences in their village.

Police summonsed the villagers from Kiri Sakor district’s Prek Khsach commune for questioning yesterday, after SEZ Koh Kong Co – which is owned by tycoon Ly Yong Phat – filed a complaint alleging that in January they threatened workers and took company property.

“The company has accused us of threatening the workers and seizing construction materials, including shovels and axes,” Rot Sophal, one of the accused villagers, told the Post yesterday. “We told police that we did not threaten workers, but seized their tools and handed them to authorities since the land dispute had not yet been solved.”

Construction workers arrived in the area with tools to start building fences on January 24, even though ownership of the land remains disputed, Sophal said.

Yong Phat signed a contract with the Ministry of Environment in May of 2010, renting 9,977 hectares of land in the area for 99 years to grow “agro industry crops”, said In Kongchit, a coordinator with rights group Licadho. Hundreds of families lived in the three villages that dot the land, but they have since negotiated with the company and left; 135 families remain in their homes and farmland there.

“This lawsuit was meant to intimidate the villagers,” Kongchit said.

Police interrogating the five villagers originally received a complaint from SEZ Koh Kong site supervisor Lay Bunna alleging suspects incited people to use violence against construction workers, but through their investigation determined no violence was used, Men Buntha, a police official at Koh Kong’s penal department, said yesterday.

All five villagers were released after questioning, Buntha said. “I decided to send the report to the court.”

Bunna, the site supervisor, could not be reached for comment yesterday.


  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release