Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Violent dispute is far from over

Violent dispute is far from over

Violent dispute is far from over

A bloodied policeman and a villager receive treatment from a doctor after the violent land dispute last month in Kampong Speu province.

OFFICIALS are reportedly planning another attempt to enforce a Supreme Court-ordered eviction in Kampong Speu province, villagers said yesterday, following an effort last month that ended in violence.

Bun Sokhom, a 46-year-old resident of Stok Slar village in Oudong district’s Phnom Toch commune, said yesterday that authorities had warned villagers during a forum on Saturday that they would take any legal action necessary to seize a 65-hectare area that has been the centre of a dispute since 2004.

A 2009 Supreme Court verdict ruled that the land belonged to the Meng Keth Company, owned by Taiwanese businessman Kuo Sheng, but villagers who disagree with the outcome have continued to occupy and plant rice on the land.

Deputy provincial governor Satthya Vuth reportedly accused residents of an “illegal occupation”, and said that the villagers had “no rights” to the land as they had sold it to the company and lost their case at three different courts, Bun Sokhom said.

Satthya Vuth and Oudong district governor Poul Nov, who attended the forum sponsored by the United States-based National Democratic Institute with villagers, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Yan Sokhom, a 40-year-old from Por village of Dom Nak Rieng commune, said yesterday that villagers were united in their determination to protect land they believed was rightfully theirs.

While Nut Romduol, a lawmaker for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party from Kampong Speu province, said yesterday that he had submitted a letter to National Assembly President Heng Samrin requesting further investigation into the dispute.

Last month, about 300 policemen attempted to carry out a Supreme Court-ordered eviction of villagers in the 65-hectare area, but encountered a force of roughly 250 armed residents from Damnak Raing and Phnom Touch communes.

A skirmish in Stock Slat village left at least 11 injured, including one villager who had been shot by police, and a police officer who was beaten unconscious by locals.

Another policeman was taken hostage by villagers who discussed whether to kill him.

Local authorities later filed a complaint against villagers for injuries to four policemen.