Authorities at a Buddhist pagoda in Kompong Chhnang province have filed a complaint accusing a provincial Fisheries Administration official of trying to grab their land, officials said Friday.
Sam Savy, chief of the provincial department of cults and religions, said the court complaint was lodged by the Dhammavoan pagoda in Rolea Ba’ier district after a complaint was filed with the court by provincial Fisheries Administration Chief Keo Thavy, who accused the monks at the pagoda of trying to take his land.
Keo Thavy has asked the court to intervene to stop the pagoda from clearing a piece of land in order to build a new Buddhist school building, Sam Savy said, adding that the pagoda owns nine hectares of land, while Keo Thavy is claiming a 1.4 hectares of it.
Some 500 residents in the area have thumbprinted a petition in support of the pagoda, which Sam Savy said has owned the land since 1987.
Kompong Chhnang provincial Prosecutor Chief Penh Vibol confirmed by telephone on Friday that the court had accepted complaints filed by both parties.
Keo Thavy has submitted a request for urgent measures to be carried out to stop the pagoda’s activities in clearing the land, he said, adding that both parties said they have paperwork to support their claims.
The pagoda, Penh Vibol added, has received permission from district and commune authorities to clear the disputed land but had not yet received permission from provincial authorities to construct the school building.
Rolea Ba’ier District Governor Pich Sambath said he had traveled to the disputed land earlier this week to ensure that there was no violence in the area.
Keo Thavy, he added, did not have a legal land title for the disputed land, aside from a land occupation request from January, 1995, signed by a commune chief and district land management officials in the area.
“The dispute is now in the hands of the court,” he said.
Keo Thavy could not be reached for comment.