More than 80 villagers protested in front of the Kandal Provincial Court Wednesday, saying that a commercial fishing company hired private guards to patrol a disputed fishing lot in Lvea Em district, Kandal province, court officials said.
But the protesters were demonstrating on behalf of a rival Kandal fishing company, Angkor Savan, which also has battled for control of the lot, provincial investigating Judge Khoun Kosal said.
The protesters accused the But Chanthou fishing company of violating their rights by hiring local police and soldiers to keep them off of Lot 18 in Lvea Em district, Khoun Kosal said.
The court will investigate the accusations, Khoun Kosal said.
According to officials, the two companies have been involved in fishing-related disputes since 2000 and have previously accused each other of wrongdoing, a court official said.
The owner of But Chanthou, who declined to be identified, accused Angkor Savan of “disturbing our investment” and of fishing on Lot 18, which But Chanthou claims it owns. The owner also accused Angkor Savan of destroying But Chanthou’s fishing nets.
The owner denied that But Chanthou hired local police to threaten the villagers off the fishing lot, saying that the local authorities did so on their own authority.