An assistant to Prime Minister Hun Sen has refuted accusations he seized 42 hectares of Sre Ambel district land in Koh Kong province and warned Sunday that his accusers may face legal action.
National Assembly President Heng Samrin last week endorsed an SRP call for an investigation by the provincial government to determine whether Seng Teang is the rightful owner of the land in Chroy Svay commune, which six other people also claim to own.
“I have proof of ownership of the land,” Seng Teang said in a telephone interview.
“Let officials investigate,” he said. “In the name of Hun Sen’s assistant, I never wanted to grab anyone’s land.”
Seng Teang said that he purchased the land fairly in 2005 from its previous owners, Hun Sambo and Keo Chamroeun.
Contacted by telephone, Hun Sambo said Sunday that he had in fact sold 96 hectares of land to Seng Teang. He added that the land the six landowners are claiming is located three to four kilometers away from Seng Teang’s land.
However, Chroy Svay commune chief Ny Deng claimed Friday that the land in question belongs to the six families.
“Those six families are the owners of the land,” he said.
Thorn Meng, a Phnom Penh resident who said Thursday that Seng Teang had planted acacia on his 22 hectares, said Sunday that he didn’t want his land back because he was too afraid.
“I will not complain anymore,” he said, adding that he feared for his safety after receiving a telephone call from Seng Teang asking him to retract statements he made to the media about the land dispute.
“My family is afraid for my safety—we are not powerful,” he said.
Seng Teang said that he had only asked for a retraction and had not threatened Thorn Meng.
“My message is to ask Thorn Meng to apologize to me or I will file a lawsuit for defamation,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Kim Chan)