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Vehicles seized as authorities intervene in land clearing op

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Stung Hav district administration intervenes in a land clearing operation on disputed land in Preah Sihanouk province. Photo supplied

Vehicles seized as authorities intervene in land clearing op

Stung Hav district administration intervened in a land clearing operation on disputed land in Otres Commune on Saturday, seizing two vehicles as a warning to all parties to cease their activities until a final court verdict is reached.

Otres Commune police chief Nget Lorn told The Post that on Saturday afternoon, Stung Hav district governor Chhay Sokunda led joint authority forces in a crack down on land clearing at O’Damrei Pagoda in Otres Commune’s Village 4, Preah Sihanouk province.

Authorities seized a bulldozer and an excavator to coerce disputing parties to refrain from violating the law and wait for the court’s judgement.

“The disputed land is 135ha and has several disputing parties and outsiders also claiming [it] from the 149 families of O’Damrei community who settled in the area in 1993,” he said.

Lorn said the claimant, who brought the vehicles to clear the land, is Hem Sovannary. The villagers filed a complaint to Preah Sihanouk provincial court to annul her sale contract and documents recognised by Sihanoukville’s Commune 1 authorities in 2015.

Sokunda told The Post on Monday that Sovannary’s group came and illegally cleared the land and built small houses on natural canal land, impacting the villagers’ land.

“That is disputed land and the case is at the court. The crackdown was done based on the Provincial Governor Board governor’s recommendation to prevent and protect the interests of all disputing parties and to let them wait for a legal resolution,” he added.

Sovannary could not be reached for comment on Monday, but her assistant Suon Kimheng told The Post that the land is located in Sihanoukville’s Commune 1, land owned by Sovannary, not Otres Commune.

“I just want to say that the land is located at O’Damrei Pagoda, which is in Sihanoukville’s Commune 1, not in Stung Hav district’s Otres Commune. We have the legal sales documents,” Kimheng said.

However, Morn Sina, representative of the O’Damrei community’s 149 families, said the disputed land is located in Otres Commune’s Village 4. He added that the villagers were in dispute with four people – Diep Chheng Sim, represented by his daughter Huy Neang, Min Dinnatya, Hem Sovannary and Ly Hongsin.

“Three of those four rich people, claiming to have a land title, were sued in provincial court by the villagers in 2015. We sued Ly Hongsin in the court in 2010 and the complaint is currently at the Supreme Court,” Sina said.

He applauded the Stung Hav district authority’s intervention in the land clearing and protection of the interests of all disputing parties.

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