The former representative of an evicted community was tried yesterday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court over claims that after leading neighbours to victory in the dispute, she stole their land.
Municipal Court judge Chhae Vireak said Chea Sarom, who had represented 163 families from Phnom Penh Thmey commune in their long-running land dispute with local businesswoman Keo Neam, was charged with “breach of trust” and “providing false declaration”.
Vireak explained that after being declared legal owners in 2011, “Sarom did not divide the land between the families that had lost their lands and which were listed in the court’s documents”.
“In addition to this, she prepared a new list of families’ names by faking [names] and putting new people who were not real victims among the 163 families and deleting [the] real victims’ names.”
Sarom denied the allegations yesterday, saying that they were lodged by an “anarchic group”. “They have no land in the disputed area and they were not the real victims,” she said. The hearing continues on June 23.