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Villagers summoned over land dispute in Preah Sihanouk

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A senior NGO official and 22 villagers in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nop district have been summoned for questioning over a long-running land dispute with prominent tycoon Ly Yong Phat and Hong Suon, the wife of tycoon Siev Kong Triv. Heng Chivoan

Villagers summoned over land dispute in Preah Sihanouk

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court summoned a senior NGO official and 22 villagers in Prey Nop district for questioning over a land dispute with prominent tycoon Ly Yong Phat and Hong Suon, the wife of tycoon Siev Kong Triv.

In her complaint, Suon accused them of causing intentional damages in Prey Nop district’s Bit Traing commune.

According to one of the warrants dated August 20 and obtained by The Post on Tuesday, Investigating Judge Kuon Chantha ordered Sun Sophat, head of the Cambodia Coalition of Farmer Community’s (CCFC) provincial committee, and the 22 villagers to appear before the court on October 22.

While considering the summons as a threat, Sophat said he had consulted his lawyer and would appear before the court.

He flatly denied any involvement in the dispute, claiming he had never owned land in the area.

“The villagers are CCFC members. I did not incite them and have never gone to the area in question. I don’t know why I’ve been summoned.

“I’m a resident in Pou Troeung village, it’s my community. My land there has already been measured, so I have no reason to protest in the disputed area,” he said.

Long Vichet, another villager who has been summoned to appear for questioning on October 1, said he had consulted a lawyer and was preparing relevant documentation to prove his innocence.

Vichet said his family had been relying on the land for their livelihood since he bought it from a villager.

“It is not fair at all because I bought the land from others. Why do they file a complaint against me? I also want to ask the court because I have never been involved in any protests,” he said.

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court spokesman Lim Bun Heng declined to comment on Tuesday, referring a reporter to Investigating Judge Chantha who could not be reached for comment.

Cheap Sotheary, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the 23 accused were known to be involved in the land dispute with the tycoons.

“If they did not commit any wrongdoing as alleged, they must have relevant documentation, witnesses, lawyers and more evidence to prove their innocence,” she said.

Neither Suon nor tycoon Yong Phat could be reached for comment on Tuesday.

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