A Municipal Court hearing on a dispute over the rights to an access road near the new Thai Embassy on Norodom Boulevard was called off Monday as embassy representatives didn’t appear in court.
After waiting an hour, Judge Kong Seth canceled the hearing, which was rescheduled for Monday. The judge’s clerk said the court cannot hear only one side of the story. The case, filed by 180 families living on the riverbank behind the embassy, involves a 100-meter road the families have used for years to get to Norodom Boulevard.
Embassy and municipal officials say the road is embassy property. Police closed it Friday, sparking protests that ended with some villagers being injured, two houses torn down and two villagers temporarily detained.
“I hope the Thai Embassy will come to the court to solve the issue,” said a schoolteacher who spoke for the families in Village 10, Chamkar Mon district.
However, a Thai official said the embassy will not appear in court except at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ request, noting foreign embassies have diplomatic immunity. An official of the ministry’s consular department also said Monday that the 1996 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations says no court has a right to summon any foreign diplomat or embassy.
The road was closed Friday by an order from city Governor Chea Sophara, who said the city had told the villagers many times that the road would be closing. “It was time to act,” he said Monday. He said the villagers will be relocated soon and a road will be built behind the embassy.