Kompong Speu Provincial Court yesterday questioned two men involved in a land dispute with a company owned by CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat over accusations of encroachment, court officials and the plaintiff’s lawyer said.
Provincial prosecutor Khut Sopheang said he questioned Sim Peng, 38, and Lon Nhanh, 42, over ownership of two 50-by-200-meter plots in Thbong district’s Omlaing commune.
“I have not yet charged them because I just met them for preliminary questioning over the accusation,” he said.
The pair live alongside local road 52—adjacent to an approximately 8,000-hectare concession granted to Mr Yong Phat’s Phnom Penh Sugar Company. The land in question was granted to villagers from Mr Yong Phat’s concession by provincial authorities in July.
The two are being sued by Khvan Samam, 45, who claims he owns more than four hectares of land around the road, and lists his occupation on court documents as “military soldier,” according to his lawyer, Heng Poung.
“My client didn’t want to sue them, but the two families had ignored my client’s request to leave his land,” he said.
Mr Poung said he had seven other clients, most of them also connected to the military, who are suing Omlaing commune villagers. Mr Poung claimed that the villagers forged ownership documents to steal the disputed land from his client, who has owned the land since 1999.
Mr Nhanh, one of the summoned villagers, yesterday dismissed the allegation and claimed the lawsuit was orchestrated by the sugar company.
“Although I am not sued by the sugar company directly, the other summoned villagers and I believe the man behind the lawsuit is the powerful sugar company owner,” he said. The company rejected such claims earlier this week.
Provincial Adhoc investigator Rath Thavy said he could not make any judgment on the legality of ownership documents but knew villagers had been living there since 2002.
“I am not an expert…but this area was under Khmer Rouge control in 1996 and 1999,” he said, referring to the time when Mr Samam claims he purchased the land.
“We wonder why the other parties just sue the villagers in the time since the arrival of the sugar company here,” he added.