A lawsuit filed Friday against the manager of the Renakse Hotel could lead to the building being closed soon and then either repaired or demolished, the Cambodian People’s Party official handling the party’s sale of the disputed property said Monday.
Minister of Cults and Religion Min Khin said he filed the lawsuit at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after an inspection by the municipal land management and construction department ended Friday.
“I filed the lawsuit…and we are waiting for the order and then the hotel will be closed,” he said by telephone. “It is an old building and I am concerned it will fall down at any time, and we want to repair or destroy it,” he said.
“It is the CPP’s decision” whether to destroy or repair the party-owned building, he added.
Long Narith, director of the municipal department of land management and construction, said the four-day inspection found that the hotel—a French colonial-era building that he said was built in 1889 or 1890—has some weak spots, though he would not say if he thought the building required demolishing.
“The roof and underground of the building could collapse…. The high officers will decide with this case after they have our reports,” he said.
The police presence at the Renakse was reduced Monday, one week after police and military police officers arrived at the property to reportedly ensure the security of four land management inspectors. About 20 officers were stationed at the hotel, but that number had been reduced to about five Monday morning.
But the departure of some of the officers was of little comfort to Renakse manager and leaseholder Kem Chantha, who said on Monday that she would not receive a fair inspection, and claimed authorities were ignoring the law to remove her from the hotel.
“They want to close the hotel and destroy it and then they can sell this land,” she said. “It is an illegal issue to me,” she said.
The ruling CPP sold the building for $3.8 million to a private firm, but Kem Chantha, who holds a 49-year lease on the building, has refused to leave. The CPP now claims she has violated the lease by failing to properly maintain the building, voiding the contract. Her refusal to leave the building led to the building inspection and the deploying of police and military police.
Representing the CPP, lawyer Khiev Sepphan, who filed the lawsuit Friday, said Monday that he would resign from the case because Min Khin told him to, though Khiev Sepphan will remain a CPP attorney. It was unclear Monday who would replace Khiev Sepphan to handle the lawsuit.
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