Administrative hang-ups continue to delay the enforcement of a Ratanakkiri court injunction forbidding a company owned by Finance Minister Keat Chhon’s sister, Keat Kolney, from clearing disputed land in the province’s O’Yadaw district, a court official said Monday.
On Sunday, Judge Thao Sarorn said that the Provincial Chief Prosecutor Mey Sokhan and judicial police officers would travel to the disputed area in Pate commune’s Kong Yu village to deliver the Oct 28 injunction.
But Monday, Deputy Prosecutor Ros Saram, who is assigned to the case, said he was unable to serve the injunction because he had not received the complete documentation from Mey Sokhan.
“I have the injunction, but we have some administrative difficulties,” Ros Saram said, referring further questions to Mey Sokhan, who could not be reached for comment.
Keat Kolney’s company began clearing grassland and undergrowth Oct 23, and has not ceased its clearing activities, reportedly because it has not received any official notice of the injunction.
Sourng Sophea, attorney with the Community Legal Education Center, which is representing the villagers, expressed disappointment with the continuing delays at the court, noting that attorneys had already handed over the $160 needed to pay for the court expenses related to delivering the injunction.
“The delay has given very little justice to the villagers—it is a waste of time,” he said.
Keat Kolney’s attorney, Chhe Vibol, reiterated Monday that the court has not yet officially given the company notice of the injunction. He added that the land clearing is merely an attempt to reduce the likelihood of dry season fires, and does not violate the agreement.
The residents of Kong Yu village have been in a legal dispute with Keat Kolney since early last year over 450 hectares of communal land they claim she cheated them out of. The injunction was granted at the request of lawyers representing the villagers in order to uphold a 2007 pact not to clear any of the land until ownership of it was settled in court.