Keat Kolney’s Firm Takes Offensive on R’kiri Land

The Ratanakkiri Provincial Court has still not served an Oct 28 injunction barring Finance Minister Keat Chhon’s sister Keat Kolney from clearing long-disputed land in the province’s O’Yadaw district, officials said Wednesday.

Judge Thao Sarorn on Sunday said that he had ordered the court prosecutor to personally implement the injunction and that it would be taken care of Monday. But Wed­nes­day evening, Thao Sarorn said he had only passed on the order to implement the injunction a few hours earlier. He blamed his delay on administrative wrangling.

Legal Aid of Cambodia attorney Hang Som Orn, who is co-representing the Pate commune villagers locked in the nearly two-year legal battle with Keat Kolney, said red tape had nothing to do with the in­junc­tion’s delay.

“The court didn’t want to implement the injunction,” he claimed, adding that Thao Sarorn only or­dered action after he had spent all of Wednesday personally complaining to the judge at the courthouse.

“We have made a strong pro­test…there was no activity [at the court] until now,” Hang Som Orn said.

With the injunction still within the confines of the Ratanakkiri court building, Keat Kolney’s company en­gaged in a media offensive Wed­nes­day, having invited dozens of lo­cal journalists to the province to re­port on her company’s ongoing conflict with the ethnic Jarai residents of Kong Yu village.

“We welcome the media to talk with the villagers,” Keat Kolney’s attorney Chhe Vibol said, adding that so far reporting on the dispute had been done by phone from Phnom Penh.

“So far, the media haven’t come to the province; they only got information from the NGOs, who are the villagers’ lawyers,” he said.

Chhe Vibol reiterated that the injunction would be fought in court.

Hang Som Orn said he was concerned that the company was bringing the media junket to the disputed land in an effort to get some positive press for itself, and to negatively portray the villagers’ side.

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