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Court responds to criticism over Preah Sihanouk land dispute

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
Soksovann Vatanasabung had criticised the Supreme Court over its land dispute decision in Preah Sihanouk. KT/Tep Sony

The Supreme Court yesterday issued a statement responding to criticism made by Khmer Rise Party president Soksovann Vatanasabung over the handling of a land dispute in Preah Sihanouk province.

Known as William Guang on Facebook, Mr Vatanasabung had repeatedly criticised the court for its ruling.

In his latest post, Mr Vatanasabung accused the court of issuing an illegal verdict over the disputed land in Prey Nop district’s Koki village, adding that the court had no right to take state land and designate it as private property.

In 2017, the court ruled in favour of the wife of tycoon Kong Triv in order to have two areas in the disputed land fenced off.

In its statement yesterday, the court said Mr Vatanasabung did not have a reason behind his criticism. The court noted that the decision to favour the plaintiff was granted after the case had gone to three courts and 13 judges.

It said that Mr Vatanasabung had made accusations with bad intentions and aimed to incite the public to lose faith in the court’s decision.

“The spokespersons of the Supreme Court announce that all courts accept constructive criticism with reasonable remarks and dare to be responsible before the law,” it said. “But, the courts do not accept baseless attacks aimed at undermining the court’s credibility.”

Court spokesman Nouv Monychot declined to comment yesterday.

“I will not elaborate because we issued the statement already,” Mr Monychot said.

Mr Vatanasabung yesterday said his party is handling the issue and that a report about the dispute had been given to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“I made a report with supporting evidence regarding this land dispute and submitted it to Samdech Techo during the Supreme Consultative Council meeting on February 28,” Mr Vatanasabung said. “Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon and Land Management Minister Chea Sophara have been tasked to review the case.”

On Saturday, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall also slammed Mr Vatanasabung for accusing Provincial Governor Yun Min of mismanaging the land dispute and that Mr Hun Sen’s past instructions had been undermined by the administration.

“He instigated and aimed to incite the public to misunderstand HE Provincial Governor Yun Min,” it said. “The provincial administration is committed to protecting private and state properties.”

Last month, two people were injured and four were arrested during a land protest in Koki village after villagers threw petrol bombs at security forces carrying out the Supreme Court decision.

Four military police officers were then disciplined for misconduct, National Military police spokesman Brigadier General Eng Hy said.

Mr Hun Sen also sacked deputy provincial Governors Srun Sroan and Phay Bun Vannak on Friday over their roles in the violent crackdown.

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