The prime minister’s older brother Hun San has sent a letter to the Interior Ministry asking for “serious action” to be taken against a deputy National Police chief over an alleged dispute on his land in Banteay Meanchey province.
The letter, dated May 2, said Lieutenant General Mok Chito had abused his power and allowed his subordinates to occupy Mr. San’s 119-hectare plot of land in Poipet City and intimidate his employees.
“Officials have repeatedly threatened me, my family and my assistants,” the letter, addressed to Interior Minister Sar Kheng, says.
It asks Mr. Kheng to “advise” Lt. Gen. Chito, “who always defends these offenders of my land and my children, making it lose warmth and decrease in popularity, solidarity and confidence among members of the Cambodian People’s Party—even among the families of its leaders.”
The letter requests “serious action” against Lt. Gen. Chito for using “power to oppress the innocent for personal gains with a handful of cronies.”
Lt. Gen. Chito, however, said on Monday that he had been unaware of any conflict on the land in recent years until he saw the letter.
Instead, he said, Mr. San’s son-in-law had contacted him about 10 years ago to ask him to help the original owner of the plot, Vy Nai, who was in the midst of a legal dispute with a man named Ly Kim Hong over illegal occupation of the property.
“I said that it was a court case and that I did not have any authority to do anything,” Lt. Gen. Chito said.
He added that he had called Mr. San after receiving word of the letter to ask why he had filed a complaint against him, in response to which Mr. San reiterated that Lt. Gen. Chito had “threatened his assistants.”
“Maybe he is angry with me for refusing to help him” years ago, he said.
Mr. San could not be reached for comment.
According to his son-in-law, Thay Mab, however, the dispute was new. He said Mr. Nai had legally passed ownership to Mr. San about a year ago in the hope of improving his odds of winning a fresh land dispute.
A man named Hang Mao, whom Mr. Mab identified as a military official at the Defense Ministry, had begun encroaching on the land, he said.
In the past month, Mr. Mao had begun filling the land with dirt and had contacted Lt. Gen. Chito for assistance in taking it over, Mr. Mab said.
Lt. Gen. Chito then allegedly called Hing Bun Hieng, head of the premier’s bodyguard unit. “Mok Chito reached out to Hing Bun Hieng to threaten my family,” Mr. Mab said.
“There is no one aside from Samdech Krala Horm who can take action,” he added, using an honorary term for the interior minister.
Lt. Gen. Chito said he had never met a Hang Mao. Defense Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat also said he was unfamiliar with anyone named Hang Mao, but added that he did not have immediate access to ministry records.
Local and provincial officials could not be reached for comment.
Mr. San has been embroiled in land disputes before, including a 2005 case in Sihanoukville in which an oknha claimed ownership of property on which Mr. San co-owned a guesthouse.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment.