Committee To Finish B’bang Land Dispute Inquest

Authorities in Battambang province’s Samlot district were to conclude their investigation this week in a longstanding land dispute involving nearly 200 families that is reportedly linked to an unsolved murder in April, a district official said yesterday.

Deputy district governor In Savrith said a committee of Samlot district officials, created for this purpose on July 26, would verify the results of their inquiry into the number of villagers involved in the O’Samril commune dispute, as well as the villagers’ exact land claims.

“We want the land dispute in the area to be resolved as soon as possible,” Mr Savrith said, adding that officials would try to resolve the dispute after the investigation is completed.

Yim Mengly, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said the committee had found that 193 families live on about 400 hectares of disputed land, with another 140 disputed hectares unoccupied.

Pen Savoeun, an RCAF soldier in Military Region 5, reportedly bought part of the disputed land from villagers in 2007, according to Mr Mengly, but villagers deny having sold him the land.

Contact information was unavailable yesterday for Mr Savoeun.

The fatal shooting on April 26 of 59-year-old villager Pich Sophorn is tied to the dispute, Mr Mengly said. Mr Sophorn on April 4 allegedly witnessed unidentified men shoot his neighbor, 49-year-old Sim Mey, who escaped with gunshot wounds to his shoulder and leg. Both men were involved in the dispute.

Hok Hoeuth, deputy police chief for Samlot district, said police have not found any clues in Mr Sophorn’s killing.

“We are investigating the case seriously but have no clues yet,” he said.

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