A Phnom Penh municipal court judge and representatives of six Kampot province families involved in a 4-year-old land dispute traded accusations of fraud and threats Monday after an attempt at mediation failed.
In the dispute, Municipal Court Judge Kong Set has claimed he purchased a 2,000-square-meter plot of land in Chhuk district from Kampot town resident Nuon Sovan for $250,000 in 2001.
However, since 2002, six families have said that Nuon Sovan promised them the land after failing to repay a debt to them. They also have land titles that were granted to them in April this year for the site in Sathphoang commune.
In August, Kong Set said that until the dispute could be resolved amicably, he would hold off on enforcing an Aug 3 Supreme Court ruling that he owned the land.
But things did not go as planned on Thursday for the families when Kampot’s provincial court director Huon Many invited them to negotiate a resolution at the courthouse with Kong Set’s lawyer.
“Kong Set’s lawyer intimidated me,” villager Lonn Lakina, 33, said.
“Kong Set’s lawyer also warned that we will waste our time struggling in court against his client because we cannot win,” he added.
Kong Set on Monday denied that his lawyer had acted improperly and countered that the families had acquired their land titles fraudulently.
“Those villagers sent false information to Samdech [Prime Minister] Hun Sen over the basic causes of the land dispute,” said Kong Set, adding that based on this, Hun Sen had ordered that land titles be given to the villagers.
“But later on Prime Minister Hun Sen released a second intervention letter to reject the first one when he discovered the fraud,” he added.