Two Jailed for Conning Villagers Over Rubber Farm Land Titles

Two men were jailed on Monday over illegal occupations on land belonging to a rubber company in Tbong Khmum province, while four more suspects remained at large, according to provincial court spokesman Theng Cheang.

Em Thon, 39, and Such Nai, 61, were among six men charging villagers from neighboring provinces 10,000 to 20,000 riel, or about $2.50 to $5, and promising to secure them legal ownership documents for the land, said Tbong Khmum district governor Keng Bunna.

Enticed by the brokers, hundreds of people had filtered into the province from villages in Kratie and Kompong Thom provinces in late January, Mr. Bunna said.

They built tents on a 500 hectare plot belonging to a private company, Sopheak Nika Investment Group. The land had previously belonged to the state, Mr. Bunna said, but

was given to the company in 2009.

“Since they went there, on the 20th of January, we told them two times to remove their tents, because it’s a private investment belonging to a rubber plantation,” Mr. Bunna said.

Villagers had so far erected hundreds of tents spread over some 300 hectares, he said.

Representatives of Sopheak Nika Investment Group could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

“They should request a land concession,” Mr. Bunna said, speaking about the displaced villagers. “The government has lots of land concessions for villagers if they have enough documents to prove their ownership.”

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