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Friday, July 31, 2009

26 Out on Bail After Land Dispute Violence

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer


Banteay Meanchey provincial court released 26 people on bail Friday, but upheld charges against them for violence in a Poipet land dispute.

Police initially arrested 22 men and nine women on July 24 as they pushed them from their land, following a decision by the Supreme Court in a land dispute between two groups of villagers.

All 31 have been charged with destruction of property, incitement and attempted murder, after they battled with local security forces, throwing gasoline bombs, acid and stones, in an attempt to stay on their land.

Two men were released on Sunday under the control of court authorities, and three men remain in the provincial jail.

“Banteay Meanchey court decided to allow the 26 accused to remain out of detention in a verdict on July 29,” according to a decision by investigating judges Ang Mealtey and Soeng Kuch.

The 26 will be required to appear in court when summoned, the judges said.

Oun Ranhya, a 24-year-old defendant released Friday, said the decision was just, “because we lost our land and houses, and the court detained us.”

“We have lived on this land for nearly 20 years,” he said.

He appealed to the court to drop all charges against the villagers.

Sum Chankea, a local coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the villagers were being charged with both civil and penal laws. He said they should only be charged with penal offenses, and should not have been released on bail, because the villagers don’t understand the verdict of the court or the law.

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Cambodian private equity firm Leopard Capital buys majority stake in beer brewery for $2m

Leopard Capital, a Cambodian private equity firm, has completed the fourth deal from its $27m debut vehicle Leopard Cambodia Fund by investing $2m in Kingdom Breweries.

LCF will acquire a 55.5 per cent share of the brewery for its investment.
The company, a Cambodian beer brewer, believes that with half the country’s population under the legal drinking age limit, consumption should shoot up over the next five to ten years.

Kingdom Breweries aims to secure a foothold by producing high-quality craft beer in a microbrewery in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

The fund’s previous transactions include a $1m investment in Greenside Holdings, which is part of a consortium of investors that is refurbishing, designing, constructing and commissioning a rural power transmission and distribution system.

LCF has also put $1.8m into Cambodia Plantations, a Singapore-based company which serves as an offshore finance vehicle for agricultural investments in central Cambodia.

The Leopard Cambodia Fund was launched in March 2008 and is targeting sectors in the financial services, agriculture, food and beverage production, building materials, tourism, and property development in the south-east Asian country.

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Cambodia approves sub-decree of co-ownership regulations

Cambodia's Council of Ministers on Friday approved a sub-decree of new co-ownership regulations, allowing legal ownership of individual apartments or condominium ownership, which paves the way for a law allowing foreign ownership of some property.

The new co-ownership regulations will make it possible to own units within a larger building without having title to the land it's on, according to the press release from the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers which was presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"Its objects will guarantee to protect rights of legal holders in apartments or condominiums for co-ownership," it said, adding that it will facilitate to management work of co-ownership of apartments and co-owners who live in the apartments or condominiums.

Moreover, the new regulations will also facilitate co-ownership for sale, exchange, donation, in-heritage, permanent rent, and collateralizing of the private parts as personal ownership. The sub-decree, with seven charters and 27 articles, has large coverage for exercising all kinds of the apartments and condominiums across the country.

"This sub-decree will be applied in the country soon and local people who bought the houses in the apartments, condominiums and skyscrapers blocks will know about the rights and ownership," Nun Pheany, spokeswoman for Ministry of Land Management, Urban planning and Construction, told Xinhua.

The foreigners have not had rights to own Cambodian land or housing so far. They could rent for doing their business or staying only, she stressed.

"In the near future, we will have a law on the foreign ownership of Cambodian land and housing. My ministry and Ministry of Justice are discussing to compose that draft law in accordance with our constitution," she said.

"By that law, the foreigners, perhaps, could own above the first floor for apartments or condominiums, even though, we need to discuss more details," she said.

However, Nun Pheany said the foreigners would not be allowed to buy the land near borders with neighboring countries because it could affect national sovereignty and which is also prohibited by the law.

She said that when foreign title law is to be approved, it will help increase the foreign investment and contribute to economic growth in the country.

Source: Xinhua
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