Villagers Summonsed Over KDC Complaints

On the same day the National Assembly’s Human Rights Commission urged villagers and a development firm to withdraw their legal complaints against each other over a land dispute in Kompong Chhnang province, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday summonsed two villagers for questioning over their claims against the company.

Keo Sokha, 42, and Soum Thon, 70, have been ordered to appear before Judge Chuon Reasey before September 30 to answer questions related to civil complaints they filed with the court on January 6, according to Reach Seima, a representative of the Lor Peang villagers.

A copy of the court warrant, which is dated August 26 and signed by Judge Reasey, says the two women must “attend the prepared procedure of oral arguments on the complaint about ownership of the land.”

The feud between the Lor Peang villagers and the KDC company dates back to 2002 and centers around 182 hectares of land claimed by both 82 families and the firm, which is owned by Chea Kheng, the wife of Mines and Energy Minister Suy Sem.

The dispute has also been used as a test case by the newly formed bipartisan Human Rights Commission, which last week met with villagers and company representatives. Commission deputy chair Lork Kheng, a CPP lawmaker, said the conflict would be “completely resolved within a week” if both sides cooperated.

On Monday, CNRP lawmaker Chea Poch, a member of the commission, asked both sides to formally withdraw their complaints against each other so that a compromise can be reached.

“We don’t want to see villagers or company officials summonsed by the court, since we are very positive the Lor Peang land dispute can be settled soon outside court system,” he said.

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