Father of Cobra-Attack Family, Freed on Bail, Vows to Fight On

Just two days after being released from provisional detention at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison, the patriarch of a family locked in a land dispute with developer Khun Sear vowed Sunday to keep fighting for his property.

Ly Sreang Kheng, 58, and his daughter, Ly Searminh, 23, were sent to Prey Sar on November 18 after being charged under the country’s Land Law with using violence against a property owner.

Mr. Sreang Kheng was released on bail Friday, but his daughter remains behind bars. His wife and son—wanted on the same charges —are in hiding.

“They arrested me and put me in prison for no reason,” Mr. Sreang Kheng said Sunday. “I did not commit any crime. The company used the court to pressure me to leave my land.”

The family has been locked in a bitter battle with Khun Sear Import Export Company, owned by tycoon Khun Sear, since they turned down his offer of $15,000 to vacate their land in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district more than a year ago.

Since then, the family has been the victim of multiple attacks, carried out, they say, by company security guards.

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

“Although the company used the court to pressure me, I will still struggle until I die to get proper compensation,” said Mr. Sreang Kheng, who returned to the ramshackle house he has occupied since the 1970s following his release on Friday.

“I’m staying to keep an eye on my home and to protect my land, but my son and wife are hiding for safety.”

He said he would accept no less than $250,000 to move.

Mr. Sreang Kheng’s family is one of three that had been refusing to make way for Mr. Sear’s planned development until September, when the other two accepted compensation and left.

His home sits adjacent to a building that once housed local government and CPP offices, and which the company acquired from the municipality in a land swap approved in 2010.

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