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Ten identified in Mondulkiri land dispute

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Senator Noy Sron was accused of attempting to illegally occupy 531ha of land. Fresh News

Ten identified in Mondulkiri land dispute

An investigating judge at the Mondulkiri Provincial Court has identified 10 suspects related to the case of Major General Pov Sothearan which involves the clearance of forest in O’Raing district’s Dak Dam commune.

Provincial court spokesman Meas Pros said on Wednesday that Sothearan encroached on the land illegally.

“The judge investigated and identified 10 people. I cannot reveal their identities per court procedure. I want to wait until they are arrested and send them to the court first so we can know the story. We detained four of them already,” he added.

Provincial Department of Environment director Keo Sopheak said on Wednesday that department officials collaborated with national-level officials to investigate the case.

“For the case of Sothearan, I got information that the court has detained four people. One is the director of a newspaper outlet, two are citizens and another one is a Major General. They were detained. We will investigate further to find the other related people,” he added.

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Tuesday requested Senate president Say Chhum to advise Senator Noy Sron, who was related to the encroachment of 531ha of land in O’Raing district’s Sen Monorom commune.

After this request, the Senate released a letter on Tuesday per a previous note written by Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 2 about how Sron is related to preparing documents to illegally occupy the 531ha.

Chhum, first vice president of the Senate Sim Ka and second vice-president Tep Ngon had a meeting about the issue with Sron on September 23.

Per advice from the leaders of the Senate, Sron apologised for his mistakes which caused difficulties for them. He signed a letter on September 23 to confirm he would no longer encroach on the land.

Adhoc community empowerment officer Pen Bunnar said on Wednesday that when officers commit wrongdoing and only have to apologise as a punishment, it shows that there is a double standard regarding law enforcement.

In short, the law does not punish high-ranking officials. Those who commit the same acts but have no high position have to strictly follow the law.

“Land encroachment is a crime that cannot be forgiven by asking for an apology or confessing to the mistake. I’ve seen the latest news that many high-ranking officials who commit offences end it just by apologising, which is opposite to law procedure,” he added.

If the justice system is to be trusted again, laws must be enforced and offenders punished without bias, he said.

The Post could not contact Senate spokesman Mam Bun Neang or Sron for further comment.

The Senate on Wednesday released a clarification, saying Sron is yet to actually occupy the 531ha. Sron was in the first stage of requesting to occupy the land and authorities denied his request.

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