Complaint Filed Against Koh Pich Residents

Phnom Penh municipal Gover­nor Kep Chuktema and Canadia Bank officials met on Monday and agreed to file a court complaint against residents of Koh Pich, Sar Heng Van Sak, De­puty chief of Ton­le Bassac Com­mune, said Tues­­­day.

Koh Pich residents have been embroiled in a fight over their land since City Hall issued an eviction or­der on Dec 6 that said they must leave their homes within 30 days.

Deputy Governor Pa Socheat­e­vong said Tuesday that the complaint has not been filed but that “ac­tion will be taken according to the law” against those who do not vacate the island.

“Don’t forget [the villagers] live il­­legally. No one can have ownership,” he said.

Calls to Kep Chuktema and De­pu­ty Governor Mann Chhoeun were unsuccessful on Tuesday.

The Public Interest Legal Ad­vo­ca­cy Project, which represents the vil­lagers, said the municipality’s le­gal action would be counter­pro­duc­tive to the ongoing negotiations.

“We do not believe that such an ac­tion would be productive and re­main committed to the negotiation process,” said PILAP technical ad­vi­ser Brian Rohan.

Hampering the months of negotiations is a disagreement over the size of the land the villagers claim to own.

PILAP is questioning a land mea­surement report given to them by municipal officials on May 4.

“From PILAP’s perspective we have some genuine questions about government sponsored surveys on the island,” said PILAP law­yer Ouk Kimleng. “Therefore, we’re doing our own thing,” said PILAP lawyer Ouk Kimleng.

PILAP has hired a firm to conduct a survey of the land and has in­vited City Hall and Canadia Bank to participate.

“In a settlement like this, obviously the amount of land each of our clients owns is crucial to calculate compensation,” he said.

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