Sam Rainsy Asks PM To Intervene in R’kiri Case

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has appealed to Prime Minister Hun Sen for intervention in a land dispute be­­tween a land concession investor and ethnic minority villagers in Rata­nak­kiri province, party officials and hu­man rights workers said Mon­day.

Two villagers have been de­tained in Ratanakkiri provincial prison since being questioned at court on Jan 5 over alleged trespassing on land in O’Chum district claimed by concession holder Khit Sok Khay.

Opposi­tion lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang, also a representative to the re­cently formed National Auth­or­ity for the Reso­lution of Land Dis­putes, said Sam Rainsy sent a let­ter about the dispute to Hun Sen on Thurs­day. “Sam Rainsy also spoke with Sam­­­dech Hun Sen by phone on Fri­day to discuss ways to solve the matter,” he said.

Sam Rainsy could not be reached for comment. Pen Bonnar, Ratanak­kiri provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said he brought the O’Chum case to the at­ten­tion of the op­position party and that both detainees required medical care. Legal Aid of Cambodia lawyer Ny Chan­dy said that the two men, his clients, had finally been allowed a brief visit to the provincial hospital on Thursday morning.

Ratanakkiri prison Director Ngin Nel confirmed the prisoners’ needs for further medical care but said he could not release them because their trespassing charge is before the Appeals Court.

Eng Chhay Eang said that he also plans to conduct an investigation into a land dispute between Keat Kol­­ney, wife of Ministry of Land Man­agement Secretary of State  Chhan Saphan, and ethnic minority vil­lagers in Ratanakkiri’s O’Yadaw district.

Adhoc and a legal rights NGO have alleged that Keat Kolney, who is also Finance Minister Keat Chhon’s sister, purchased land illegally from the minority villagers.

Keat Kolney’s representative, Ith Sam Ath, declined comment Mon­day.


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