Conflicting versions of events emerged yesterday after a Battambang man was found dead in a disused gold-mining pit in the province’s Phnom Proek district.
The body of 50-year-old Nuon Trea, from Ou Lhong village in the district’s O’Romduol commune, was found in the pit in a disputed section of land on the border between Thailand and Cambodia early on Friday morning.
According to the district’s deputy chief, Sareth Viseth, Trea was digging for gold with three other men when the pit caved in.
“We have told the villagers three times already not to dig there, but they don’t stop. The area is over a river, right into the disputed zone,” said Sareth Viseth.
However, O’Romduol commune chief Phatt Mao said Trea was a journalist with an organisation called ASEAN Coalition News and was investigating gold mining in the area with four other men.
“Actually, there was no mining anymore in that area, but he wanted to see with his own eyes,” Mao said.
Mao also claimed that after falling in the hole, a large rock fell on Trea, which was too big for the four others to move.
They only found a camera at the scene and no equipment that could be used for digging, he added.
“We warned people not to do mining there since 2013, because it is the banned area.”