Prince Ranariddh Involved in Dangkao Land Purchase Dispute

Funcinpec’s Phnom Penh dep­uty Governor Mam Bun Neang has been summoned by Phnom Penh Municipal Court to appear for questioning on Friday over a land dispute in the capital involving Fun­cinpec President Prince Noro­dom Ran­ariddh, officials said.

The summons, issued by Judge Phou Pov Hun, calls for Mam Bun Neang to testify about more than 25 hectares of Dangkao district land the prince bought in Decem­ber from businessman Tann Seng Hak at $20,000 per hectare, totaling at least $500,000, Mam Bun Neang said. He added that he is not planning to attend questioning.

“We wanted to build a park for play­ing football,” he said of the land. “But after seeing these problems, the prince stopped the purchase about a week ago.”

The case stems from a complaint filed with the court on Feb 20 by Kim Hour, 27, son of prominent and con­­­troversial land developer Dy Po. Kim Hour claims he is the rightful own­er of the land, having bought it from local villagers years ago, and that it has been unlawfully sold to the prince.

Tann Seng Hak said by phone Tues­day that he bought the land le­gally from villagers in 2001 before legitimately selling it to Prince Rana­­riddh.

Documents obtained Monday de­­tail the sale of the land in Kob Srov Touch village, witnessed by Mam Bun Neang on Dec 27.

“I, Tann Seng Hak, 39…transfer­red right of ownership on 256,820 square meters of farmland to Nor­o­dom Ranariddh, President of the Na­tional Assembly,” the transaction document reads. “If the above farmland does not really belong to me, who transferred the ownership, I will be responsible before the law,” Tann Seng Hak added in the document.

After purportedly receiving the rights to the land, Prince Ranariddh sent a letter dated Jan 14 to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking that a land title be issued.

On Feb 2, Council of Ministers Sec­retary of State Prak Sokhon, a CPP official, sent a request to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuk­tema to investigate the sale and re­port back to the prime minister.

A Feb 17 letter from Prak Sok­hon to Hun Sen’s adviser Ho Sithy states that there were insufficient documents to justify issuing a land title.

“Tann Seng Hak has no land title at all,” Prak Sokhon wrote. “How can he transfer land that he does not own to another person?”

Municipal Court Chief Prose­cu­tor Ouk Savouth could not be reach­ed for comment.


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