Ministry checks claims of arson and arrests
Justice Ministry officials went to Preah Sihanouk province yesterday to investigate a land dispute in which a family claims their home was burned down by a high-ranking government official and two family members were thrown in jail.
The investigation into the land dispute in Sihanoukville’s Buon commune was made after local media reported on the family’s suffering.
Justice Ministry undersecretary of state and spokesman Chin Malin said on his Facebook page yesterday that after receiving the information, his team went to investigate further by meeting and getting information from local authorities, the accused, the family of the accused and the provincial court.
“Results of the investigation will be released later,” he said.
A petition by Van Vong and his family, which was supported with the thumbprints of more than 50 citizens, was submitted to the provincial governor on December 29 requesting intervention to release four people who had been arrested and sent to court.
It said the dispute started in 2006 when high-ranking government official Yu Chantha came to the province and faked documents showing she owned Mr. Vong’s land, which he occupied since 1986.
The petition did not say what position Ms. Chantha held with the government.
It said that after faking the documents, Ms. Chantha tried to occupy the disputed land by using force to evict Mr. Vong twice, but failed. She later burned the house down, the petition claimed, and filed a complaint to the court saying that his children had used violence.
The provincial court then decided to sentence Mr. Vong’s daughters – Van Ny, 42, and Van Theoun, 35 – to prison in absentia.
Ms. Theoun’s husband, Chan Samol, said that the hectare and a half of land in dispute had been occupied by his father-in-law since 1986.
In 2006, he added, Ms. Chantha faked the documents. Then she threatened to grab the land and faked the story to have Mr. Samal’s wife and sister-in-law arrested.
However, Mr. Samol said he hoped the court would consider releasing the women after the Justice Ministry had concluded its investigation.
“The ministry is doing research. I hope to get justice because we have many people recognizing that this land belongs to my father,” he said.
Ms. Chantha could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Provincial governor Yun Min said that the land management department had already given a land title to Mr. Vong, but his family had gone to protect the land which made the other party accuse them of using violence, resulting in their arrest and imprisonment.
However, in a meeting with the ministry’s inspection team, he asked the ministry to review and facilitate the release of the two women.
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