Accused Deny Duping Villagers Out of Social Land Concession

A village chief and security guard in Kompong Chhnang province have denied allegations that they duped villagers out of a 270-hectare social land concession, the Anti-Corruption Unit said Wednesday.

The pair also denied clearing a separate 600 hectares of forestland in the province to sell to individuals from Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet City for mango and rubber tree plantations, the ACU said.

In a statement posted to the ACU website Wednesday, the unit said it questioned Damnak Ampil village chief Yim Doeun, and security guard Nong Vannak, in April following a February complaint from villagers in Toek Phos district’s Kraing Skear commune.

The villagers had alleged the pair made them thumbprint documents in order to gain a 270-hectare social land concession from the government only to then illegally sell plots on the land. They also said the pair had cleared 600 hectares of forestland in a nearby wildlife sanctuary.

“The purpose of posting this statement is to inform the plaintiffs that our unit has taken measures by questioning the accused,” said ACU vice chairman Chhay Savuth. “It is a chance for the plaintiffs to submit concrete evidence with the ACU upon seeing this reply from the accused, if they are unable to accept the answer provided by the accused pair.”

Mr. Savuth said the ACU’s next move would depend on whether or not the villagers “are satisfied with the answer from the two officials.”

Village chief Yim Doeun denied by telephone Wednesday having any part in the occupation of the land concession by businesspeople.

“The land requested by villagers and given to us has been occupied by businesspeople but I was not involved in selling the land to them,” he said. “It’s land grabbing.”

Kraing Skear commune chief Kong Sam Im confirmed that the land concession had been petitioned by villagers but denied any role in the matter.

“Some villagers had their thumbprints collected to ask for a social land concession from the government but I refused to sign on their proposal document when they came to me a few years ago,” he said.

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