Members of Cobra-Attack Family in Hiding

After her husband and daughter were arrested and jailed in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, the matriarch of a family locked in a land dispute with developer Khun Sear and his eponymous import-export firm was in hiding with her 18-year-old son Wednesday—fearing she’d be next.

Ly Sreang Kheng, 58, and his daughter, Ly Searminh, 23, were placed in pretrial detention at Prey Sar prison on Tuesday after being charged under the country’s Land Law with using violence against a property owner, according to their lawyer, Han Meng Hoeung.

The home of Ly Sreang Kheng's family stands next to an apartment building in Phnom Penh's Tuol Kok district Wednesday. (Alex Consiglio/The Cambodia Daily)
The home of Ly Sreang Kheng’s family stands next to an apartment building in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district Wednesday. (Alex Consiglio/The Cambodia Daily)

Their arrests—Mr. Sreang Kheng was detained at his home in Tuol Kok district, his daughter when she came to visit him at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court later that day—follow a series of brazen attacks on the family over the past year in retaliation, they claim, for their refusal to accept $15,000 to vacate the ramshackle house they have occupied for decades.

In October last year, a bag of venomous cobras was thrown through their window.

“The court and authorities are doing this to force us to leave our home,” Mok Siv Hong, Mr. Sreang Kheng’s wife, said Wednesday while hiding from police.

Ms. Siv Hong said security guards working for Khun Sear Import Export Company—who monitor her home every day—have been the perpetrators of the violence, including beatings, arson and the killing of their pets.

“They see we are the only family left now,” she said. “The security guards try their best to scare us, but we are not afraid [of them]. We are afraid of the police.”

Mr. Sear—whose company acquired the plot the family lives on in a swap with the municipality in November last year—has said the family’s refusal to leave is preventing him from developing condominiums.

According to Ms. Siv Hong, her family was one of three families refusing to make way for Mr. Sear’s planned development until September, when the other two accepted compensation and left.

Mr. Meng Hoeung, the lawyer, Wednesday said the company filed a complaint against the family with the municipal court in September and that all four members failed to head summonses to appear for questioning.

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