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Fisheries officials under fire

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A fisherman patches holes in his boat on the banks of the Tonle Sap lake in Siem Reap province in November of 2010. Villagers in the province have accused fisheries officials of accepting bribes.

Forty-two families in Siem Reap province filed a complaint to the provincial governor, local rights group Adhoc and Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers accusing three fisheries officials of accepting bribes from Vietnamese fishermen.

The families, from Siem Reap town’s Chung Khnies commune, filed the complaint last week against Siem Reap provincial Chief of Fisheries Tem Savuth, Chung Khnies commune Chief of Fisheries Srey Keosopheak and provincial Fishery Official Thy Oun.

Tith Bunreth, a representative of the families, claimed yesterday that the three officials had accepted bribes from Vietnamese fishermen operating illegally in the commune.

“Those officials have taken some money from the Vietnamese fishermen,” he said.

Tith Bunreth said that the officials allowed Vietnamese fishermen to use illegal equipment and to destroy equipment belonging to the families.

“We informed those officials many times that the Vietnamese fishermen used the illegal fishing nets, which have small holes to collect small fish, and they also used electrical tools.”

Seng Thoeun, another representative of the families, said that Tem Savuth yesterday invited representatives to a meeting to discuss the complaint.

“We decided that we won’t go because we are worried about our security, but we will go if they send an official letter inviting us,” he said.

Siem Reap provincial Chief of Fishery Tem Savuth, yesterday denied the allegations.

“I will sue them for defamation if I find out that they wrongly accused me and my officials,” he said.

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