The Phnom Penh Municipal Court again delayed the trial of a woman whose family is locked in a land dispute with tycoon Khun Sear on Wednesday, this time at the request of her lawyer, who is advising the family to give up their five-year battle and accept an apparent $160,000 compensation offer.
Ly Seav Minh, 23, and her family have been fighting Mr. Sear and his eponymous company over a plot of land in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district. She is facing charges of using violence against a property owner under the Land Law in relation to a 2013 scuffle with Mr. Sear’s security guards and has been in provisional detention since being arrested in November. Her father Ly Sreang Kheng is out on bail.
Choung Choungy, a lawyer representing the family, said during the hearing Wednesday that he was requesting a delay because he had filed a complaint to the Appeal Court over the municipal court’s refusal to grant Ms. Seav Minh bail.
Presiding Judge Svay Tonh granted the delay in the case, the second in two weeks.
However, after the hearing, Mr. Choungy claimed the family and a representative of Mr. Sear’s company had come to a verbal agreement last week that would see the company drop the case and pay the family $160,000 in return for them abandoning their home.
“The tycoon [Mr. Sear] wants the land…and the family accepted the compensation,” Mr. Choungy said. “So the company will drop the complaint. The family was forced to accept the deal because they want Seav Minh released from prison.”
Yet Touch Chhay, a lawyer for Mr. Sear’s company, said he knew nothing about the verbal agreement.
“I’m not sure about the negotiations, or any compensation,” he said. “I did not get any information from my client about this.”
Mr. Sreang Kheng and his wife, Mok Siv Hong, said after Wednesday’s hearing that they felt they had no choice but to give up their fight.
“I [will] accept the compensation because I want my daughter freed from prison,” Ms. Siv Hong said.