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‘Shakedown’ lands four behind bars

Four men were arrested yesterday in Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district on allegations that they had posed as soldiers in order to take money from villagers operating a sawmill, police said yesterday.

Captain Keo Bunthoeun, a district penal police officer, identified the suspects as Bin Silo, 47, and Than Kosal, 30 – both of whom claimed to work for an unidentified environmental NGO – and local farmers Dorn Thea, 52, and Sim Touch, 46.

“They falsely presented themselves as military officers and extorted 200,000 riel [about $50] each from villagers who were running a sawmill in the forest . . . in exchange for not arresting them or reporting them to authorities,” said Bunthoeun, adding that the suspects had shaken down about a dozen villagers.

Provincial police official Sum Sophorn said the arrests were made after confused villagers – who had never been shaken down before – reported the incident to police.

Deputy provincial police chief Heng Mara said the four had been preliminarily charged with impersonating a military official and extortion.

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