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Justice Ministry official sacked over land grab

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
Seng Sovannara has lost his ministry position. VOD

King Norodom Sihamoni on Saturday approved the sacking of Seng Sovannara as a Justice Ministry undersecretary of state over alleged land grabbing in Mondulkiri province.

“[The King] orders the termination of His Excellency Seng Sovannara’s service as an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Justice,” a royal degree said.

The King noted in his decree that Mr Sovannara was sacked based on a request by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“[The King] orders Prime Minister Hun Sen to implement the royal decree from the date of its signing,” the decree said.

Chin Malin, Justice Ministry spokesman, yesterday said he could not comment on the sacking because the request to the King was made by the Prime Minister.

“His [Mr Sovannara] case is being investigated by the authorities and I cannot elaborate on this issue,” he said.

Mr Malin noted that Mr Sovannara was sacked from his position and is now an ordinary citizen since Saturday.

In July, Mondulkiri provincial governor Svay Sam Eang issued a letter to revoke Mr Sovannara’s titles to 990 hectares of land in Koh Nhek district which he noted actually belonged to the provincial environment department.

“After the provincial administration went down to review the situation, we found that the land was set aside for conservation by the department,” the letter said. “So the provincial administration does not recognise the land titles.”

On August 13, Interior Minister Sar Kheng had announced that Mr Sovannara had been removed as a member of the CPP’s working group in Mondulkiri province.

Mr Sam Eang could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Keo Sopheak, provincial environment department director, yesterday said that the governor had signed separate letters to annul Mr Sovannara’s titles to three plots of land in the province.

“Two plots were in O’Raing district and the other was in Koh Nhek district,” he noted. “In total, titles to more than 1,000 hectares were revoked,” he said.

Mr Sopheak said the provincial governor decided to revoke the titles because the areas involved were in the Keo Seima and Sre Pok wildlife sanctuaries.

Mr Sovannara could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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