Lawyers for villagers embroiled in a Koh Kong province land dispute tried unsuccessfully Tuesday to file motion papers at the provincial court seeking an order against CPP tycoon senator Ly Yong Phat, lawyers said.
Seng Sokhim, an attorney with the Community Legal Education Center, said the court informed CLEC on Tuesday that the villagers themselves had to file the motion seeking an order blocking Ly Yong Phat’s companies from clearing any more disputed land in the case.
“The court said we hadn’t followed procedure and wanted the villagers to file it,” he said. “We agreed to this but lawyers do have the right to file [motions].”
CLEC will attempt to file the motion again today, he said.
Court Director Ing Sarun denied any knowledge of the case Tuesday.
Since mid-2006, over 500 families from three villages in Sre Ambel district’s Chi Khor Loeu commune have been locked in dispute with two companies controlled by Ly Yong Phat, which they claim have cleared their crops to make way for a 20,000-hectare sugar plantation.
Ly Yong Phat could not be reached for comment this week and receptionists at Hero King Co Ltd, where he is CEO, said they did not have contact details for him.
CLEC estimates, based on villager interviews, that over 500 hectares of farmland claimed by residents of Chhouk, Chi Khor and Trapaing Kandal villages have so far been cleared.
Provincial Governor Yuth Pouthang declined to comment on the case, while district governor Bun Leut would only say that some villagers had already been compensated.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith declined comment. However, CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that, while he was unfamiliar with the case, it should be investigated.
“The local authorities and the government should look into how long the brothers have been living there,” he said, referring to the villagers.
(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison.)