Villagers Ignore Summons Over Land Dispute

Villagers embroiled in a land dispute in Preah Vihear province’s Kulen district were summonsed to appear before the provincial court for questioning Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday over a property destruction lawsuit brought by a Malaysian agribusiness, but said they were boycotting the hearings due to a procedural defect.

Investigating Judge Sor Savuth summoned the 12 villagers from Srayong commune after they burned down a gate built by FP Co., Ltd., in October.

The land dispute first broke out in 2011 after FP began clearing 1,000 hectares of land that villagers say they had occupied for more than a decade.

In October, angry that the company had built a gate across a road that many farmers use to access their land, villagers set fire to it.

Huon Chanthoeun, a villager representative who was summonsed to appear in court today, said Judge Savuth had failed to issue a summons inviting the villagers’ defense lawyer to the court.

“We are boycotting the court be­cause the summonses are so unfair, especially because the judge did not invite our defense lawyer to accompany us,” he said.

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