Kratie officials issued a warrant for a purported environmental NGO activist suspected of causing a car accident and extorting illegal loggers and timber smugglers, deputy prosecutor Hak Horn said yesterday.
Police said Soeng Kimsea, the 26-year-old deputy head of the Cambodian Organization for Environmental Protection and Human Rights, was chasing a car loaded with 30 pieces of timber in Tbong Khmum on May 12.
Kimsea drove up alongside and sideswiped the car he was chasing, causing it to crash into another car, injuring two passengers. Kimsea’s own car tumbled down into a ditch.
“In the past, he had extorted money many times from people who carry wood, and when they did not give him money, he chased them,” said Yean Heang, the Chet Borei district police chief in Kratie.
Court officials also issued warrants and summonses for the others involved in the crash.
The case comes amid a government crackdown on illegal timber that has seen several land companies and concession holders called to court to explain illegal logs found on their properties.
A Mondulkiri prosecutor said yesterday that five companies had been issued summons and were supposed to come to court over the past few weeks, but “two or three” had yet to do so.
Meanwhile, in Kratie, prosecutors are bogged down with trying to find witnesses and accomplices who are willing to testify against two other companies, according to provincial deputy prosecutor Hak Horn.
“There were only two companies – they had come to answer, but they denied that the wood was theirs and said they rented [the areas where the timber was found] to other people … therefore we need to call all involved people,” said Horn. “It will take a long time.”
Additional reporting by Igor Kossov