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Chut Wutty slaying witness questioned

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Environmental activist Chut Wutty, who was gunned down in Koh Kong province in April, speaks to the Post last year. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Another witness to the fatal shootings of environmental activist Chut Wutty and military police officer In Rattana was questioned at Koh Kong Provincial Court yesterday.

Bou Orn is the third employee of logging company Timbergreen – a firm Chut Wutty was investigating for alleged illegal logging – to be questioned by the court over the shootings, including suspect Ran Borath, who has been charged with the unintentional murder of In Rattana.

Court officials yesterday declined to discuss Bou Orn’s testimony, which was given in a closed session of court, but Neang Boratino, provincial co-ordinator of the rights group Adhoc, questioned why key witness and soldier Bou Chhorn had still not been summonsed.

“We would like to urge the court to issue the summons to villagers and soldiers present at the scene to explain, because they are important persons for this case,” he said.

Bou Chhorn, he said, was a masked soldier who had stopped Chut Wutty’s car from leaving Veal Bei point in Mondul Seima’s Bak Khlang commune shortly before he was shot on April 26, and would have important information for the case.

Ing Kong Chet, a co-ordinator for the rights group Licadho, said Bou Orn lived in a house adjacent to where Chut Wutty was shot.

In May, the court questioned Phorn Bopha, a journalist travelling with Chut Wutty at the time of the shooting, Timbergreen employees Puom Ravin and Kruy Setha, and military police officers So Sopheap, Prum Sokha and Ek Sam Oeun.

Another journalist who witnessed the shooting, Canadian Olesia Plokhii, returned to her home county shortly afterward.

The official account of the shooting from the military police, who first issued several contradictory explanations, was that In Rattana shot Chut Wutty and then was accidentally killed when Ran Borath attempted to disarm him.

Srey Makny, Koh Kong provincial deputy court prosecutor, declined to comment yesterday, but court clerk Chhin Long confirmed Chut Wutty’s possessions had now been returned to his family.

Chut Wutty’s son, Chhey Odom Reaksmey, said those possessions included his 4WD, nine phones, five cameras and other materials such as clothing.

“I want the court to find the real killer who murdered my father,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at titthara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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