Boeung Kak lake residents protest yesterday at a site where homes were destroyed last month in Village 22, Daun Penh district. Eight families whose homes were demolished at Boeung Kak lake last month appealed to Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene in their case yesterday amid the rubble of their former homes and a flurry of summonses they say are intended to silence their dissent.
The families, who on October 4 filed a complaint against real estate developer Shukaku Inc, owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, said they have received separate summonses to appear for questioning today and Wednesday in the Shukaku case, while the company has not been asked to appear. Additionally, two of the families have received summonses to answer to defamation charges filed by lawyer Suong Sophal – a man they say they have never heard of.
Speaking at a news conference at Boeung Kak, Tep Vanny, one of those summonsed in both the Shukaku and Sophal cases, said the summonses are a “trick” intended to delay finding a resolution in the ongoing land dispute in the capital. “[They] use the court system to threaten villagers [involved in the land dispute] to stop them from expressing themselves,” she said. “They should to stop this trick.”
Six of the families are already the subject of a complaint by Srah Chak commune chief Chhay Thirith, who claimed the families had insulted and intimidated him. Heng Mum, a housewife among those hit with dual summonses, said that she had never heard of lawyer Soung Sophal, but suspected that if he were filing a complaint against the villagers, he was likely involved in the demolition of their homes.
Suong Sophal could not be reached for comment.