100 Protest Against Decision In Battambang Land Dispute

More than 100 people demonstrated against the Battambang Provincial Court on Monday after disagreeing with the resolution of a land dispute case, a top court official said Wednesday.

Nil Non, the court’s prosecutor, acknowledged the demonstrators’ complaints are valid.

“The court is unfair. The court is unconscious,” he said by telephone.

It was the first demonstration of its kind in Battambang town, Nil Non said.

Ly Vouch Leang, secretary of state for the Justice Ministry, acknowledged that the court has not been fair in this case but said the families’ only option is to take an appeal to a higher court.

Property-owner Sing Eum filed a complaint with the court in 1997 that seven families were squatting on his land illegally. The court decided on Jan 15  that the land was his and that the families had to vacate it.

On Monday the squatters—who claim to have been longtime residents of the land—and some of their neighbors protested at the courthouse because they felt the decision was unjust.

A Battambang courthouse officer said that the squatters have already forwarded their complaint to a higher court in Phnom Penh.

The protest lasted about two hours on Monday and had the permission of the local authority.

Ly Vouch Leang also said that the families were free to ask the ministry for help and that it would be willing to send a qualified expert to re-examine the case. The expert cannot, however, force the Battambang court to revise its judgment because it is an independent institution, she noted.

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