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7NG company manager charged with squatting on state land

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
7NG director Srey Sothea speaks to reporters in August. Fresh News

Mondulkiri provincial court yesterday charged a 42-year-old manager working for the 7NG company with encroaching on state forestland in O’Raing district.

Court spokesman Mam Vanda said yesterday that an investigating judge charged Cheang Sophearun, a manager working for the 7NG company, with illegally occupying state forestland in Sen Monorom commune.

“He has been placed in pretrial detention,” Mr Vanda said, adding that the court decided to release seven other workers hired to place poles to claim the state forestland since they were innocent.

“After questioning them, we allowed seven people to return home because they were workers hired by the company and they were not involved,” he said.

Oum Vansopheak, chief of the provincial forestry administration, said yesterday that eight people were arrested in connection with encroaching on state forestland in O’Raing district.

“They were arrested for being involved in encroaching on the state-owned pine plantation,” he said. “After questioning, [Mr Sophearun] said that he has worked for tycoon Srey Chanthou who asked him to place poles and plant trees on that land.”

Provincial police chief Major General Lor Samnang confirmed that his police officers cooperated with forestry administration officials to make the arrests.

“Our police forces cooperated with forestry administration officials after receiving an order from the provincial governor,” Maj Gen Samnang said.

The poles installed by 7NG workers in Mondulkiri. CPC-News

Srey Sothea, the director of the 7NG, and his son Srey Chanthou were charged with fraud by Phnom Penh Municipal Court in August.

They were charged in relation to the selling of land in Kandal province, which they never provided to paying customers. Neither men could be reached for comment yesterday.

In April, people who bought plots of land from the 7NG Company gathered in front of the company’s office in Kandal province’s Khsach Kandal district to demand their land after it failed to fulfil its promise.

They said that they bought the plots of land through an instalment plan, but the company has yet to distribute what they paid for.

At the time, Mr Sothea, director of 7NG, issued a letter saying that it will soon begin distributing plots of land to customers.

Mr Sothea said the distribution will be based on the ownership transfer letter and other documents to confirm the purchase.

“If the company does not have the land to offer to customers, the company will refund the money in accordance with the market price determined,” he said in the letter.

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