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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Murder raises graft claims

Murder raises graft claims

A FOREST ranger's body was found floating in the Tonle Sap in a murder some

people suspect is related to his attempts to uncover corruption in the Forestry

department.

A source from the criminal investigation police said he

suspected Sotha Kunthea's death may have been related to him uncovering some

corrupt scandal in the Forestry department. The source said Kunthea's job gave

him access to sensitive accounting records in the department.

But the

source said investigations at the Forestry Department had yet to uncover

anything and nobody in the Forestry department has been able to give the police

any leads concerning Kunthea's death.

Family members say on May 11

Kunthea was handcuffed, tortured and dunked in a river by unknown men.

He

struggled home at 3 am with shackle marks covering his hands. He forced family

members to keep the incident a secret to protect their safety.

Family

members said on May 31 at 6 pm a man came to their house and asked Kunthea to go

with him but Kunthea refused. They said another man later came to the house in a

car and this time Kunthea went off with the man.

Kunthea was not seen

again until his body was found with a gun shot wound through the head in the

river 60 meters from the friendship bridge on June 2.

Family members and

neighbors described Kunthea as an honest and friendly person who never got into

trouble with anyone.

One neighbor said: "Kunthea , unlike other rangers,

never possessed a motorbike or car and was very poor."

When asked by the

Post about corruption in the Forestry Department family members and neighbors

refused to say anything due to fear.

Kunthea's family have also since the

death moved house to protect themselves. But a close friend of Kunthea's said

his death was related to his being honest and law abiding.

Human rights

groups may launch an independent investigation of the killing.

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