A Kompong Speu province resident charged with encroaching on land claimed by CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat’s Phnom Penh Sugar Company was questioned at provincial court yesterday in relation to his own suit against the man who allegedly sold his land off.
Chhuon Chuon, a resident of Thbong district’s Omlaing commune, was charged with encroachment by the provincial court in October. Yesterday, Mr Chuon said he had sued a district land management administrator, Chan Dara, in June for allegedly forging documents to illegally sell his land to the sugar firm.
He said yesterday’s hearing offered him a chance to present the court with documents proving his legal ownership of the 43- by 500-meter plot since 2005.
“I handed over all sufficient documents to prove my legal ownership,” he said.
The contested land was situated in Oral district’s Trapaing Chor commune until authorities decided to redraw the large district’s borders to make it smaller and more manageable.
“Although my plot of land and house have been administered into Thbong district’s jurisdiction, the land document originally signed by Trapaing Chor commune has never been transferred,” Mr Chuon said.
Provincial court prosecutor Khut Sopheang confirmed the hearing but declined to elaborate.
“It was just a preliminary questioning made with the plaintiff,” he said.
Contact information for Mr Dara could not be obtained.
A Nov 13 letter to the provincial court from former Trapaing Chor commune chief Chea You, however, claims that the documents Mr Chuon and six other landowners are relying on to defend their ownership were stamped without his knowledge or approval.
“Our commune stamps and name stamps were used by the commune clerk without our knowledge,” said the letter, a copy of which was obtained yesterday.
Mr You declined to discuss the letter yesterday, and the commune clerk in question, Choem Phan, could not be reached.
A Nov 15 report from rights group Adhoc claimed that Mr Chuon and another man, Mao Yoeurn, were only charged by the court after rejecting repeated requests from Phnom Penh Sugar to give up their land in exchange for $500. The group says 19 villagers have been sued by the firm since March for various alleged offenses, including arson, vandalism and encroachment.
Phnom Penh Sugar representative Chheang Kim Sun yesterday insisted the firm was only buying land being legally sold.
“Whenever the landowner is ruled on by law, the land is theirs legally,” she said.