Father, Daughter of Family in Land Dispute Arrested, Jailed

A man whose family has been locked in a land dispute with real-estate magnate Khun Sear and his eponymous import-export firm was on Tuesday arrested at his Phnom Penh home, charged with violating the country’s Land Law and jailed, according to the family’s lawyer.

When his daughter came to visit him during his questioning at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, she too was arrested, charged with the same crime as her father—using violence against a property owner—and placed in pretrial detention, said lawyer Han Meng Hoeung.

The arrest of Ly Sreang Kheng and his daughter, Ly Searminh, comes after a series of brazen attacks on the family over the past year following his refusal to accept $15,000 to leave their home in Tuol Kok district.

Mr. Meng Hoeung said the Khun Sear Import Export Company lodged a complaint against the family with the court on September 5, adding that his clients were questioned by Investigating Judge Ly Lib Meng and deputy prosecutor Seu Vanny on Tuesday.

Neither court official could be reached.

“The deputy prosecutor accused me of stealing the company’s property, defamation and using violence,” Mr. Sreang Kheng said at the courthouse Tuesday.

“This is not justice for me, as they are the ones who tried to kill me. Even if they kill me, I will not accept the land robber’s money.”

“I am shocked that they are detaining me,” his daughter, Ms. Searminh said during a break from proceedings. “It is an injustice, as we did nothing wrong.”

The family says the company has attempted to intimidate them into vacating their property—which they have been living on for decades—through beatings, arson and the killing of their pets.

In October last year, a bag of venomous cobras was thrown through the window of their home.

Mr. Sear says the family’s refusal to take compensation and leave their home is preventing him from developing condominiums on the plot, which he claims he owns.

Representatives for Mr. Sear could not be reached.

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