A villager in Koh Kong province’s Kiri Sakor district in a land dispute with a Special Economic Zone owned by tycoon Ly Yong Phat was yesterday charged with violence and temporarily detained in prison after a complaint was filed against him by a representative of the SEZ.
In Kongchit, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, said Heng Sok, 48, was arrested on Friday and sent to the provincial court yesterday following the complaint, which accused him of placing a pole on disputed land.
He added that after questioning, the investigating judge charged Mr Sok and sent him to be temporarily detained at the provincial prison.
“I think the intentions of the company are to break the spirit of the villagers from protesting and solving their land problems as the company tries to grab their land,” Mr Kongchit said.
Koh Kong Provincial Court investigating judge Keo Sokha and a court clerk could not be reached for comment.
Mr Sok, who represented 50 families, submitted a petition to Koh Kong Provincial Hall in December, asking for intervention in their land dispute with the SEZ over 103 hectares of land.
Lay Siro, deputy chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau, said the investigating judge decided to charge Mr Sok with violence against a possessor in good faith of immovable property.
“We have already sent him for temporary detention at the prison following the order of the investigating judge at about 12.15pm this afternoon,” he said.
Chan Nakry, a representative of the SEZ, said the company sued Mr Sok because he placed a pole on land granted by the government to the company for development.
“Mr Heng Sok went to put a pole on the company’s land. We explained to them about the legal aspects, but he still continued to encroach upon the land,” he said.
According to the Licadho official, the SEZ received an economic land concession from the Environment Ministry to develop a rubber plantation on 9,977 hectares, but the contract required the company to deal with affected citizens first. In early December, the company allegedly used bulldozers to clear the disputed land which affected 50 families, caused protests and resulted in a complaint being filed to the court.