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Chut Wutty witness had eyes elsewhere

Chut Wutty witness had eyes elsewhere

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A woman carries a photograph of slain environmental activist Chut Wutty at his funeral in Kandal province last month. Chut Wutty was gunned down in Koh Kong province on April 26 of this year. Photograph: Will Baxter/Phnom Penh Post

Another witness to the fatal shooting of prominent environmentalist Chut Wutty and military police officer In Rattana has said he did not see who shot the men after testifying in Koh Kong provincial court yesterday.

Puom Ravin, a 37-year-old employee of the logging firm Timbergreen said he was looking the other way when heard gun shots at Veal Bei point in Modul Seima district’s Bak Klang commune on April 26, and then turned around to discover both men dead.

“I don’t know who shot those two people dead,” he said, adding that it sounded like Chut Wutty’s leg then fell on the accelerator of the car he was inside of, causing the engine to rev,” he said.

He added that, in total, there had been seven people at the crime scene who he later learned were Chut Wutty, In Rattana, a man only known as Chhorn, So Sopheap, Ran Borath and two journalists.

“I saw two journalists run out from the car to jungle after I heard the shooting, and they came back about five minutes later,” he added.

According to the accounts of those journalists, Phorn Bopha and Olesia Plokhii, who were travelling with Chut Wutty at the time to investigate alleged illegal logging, the group repeatedly tried to push start the car before the shooting.

But they have also said they did not see who shot who, leaving only the official police account, which changed several times after an early explanation that an aggrieved In Rattana shot himself twice with an AK-47 after killing Chut Wutty was widely ridiculed.

The current official version of events is that In Rattana shot Chut Wutty and was then killed when security guard Ran Borath, who has been charged with unintentional murder, tried to disarm him.

Ran Borath was an employee of the firm Timbergreen, which Chut Wutty had repeatedly accused of illegal logging.

Witnesses Ek So Oeun, also an employee of Timbergreen, and Bou Orn, 28, whose background is unknown, received court summonses on May 17, Neang Boratino, Adhoc provincial coordinator in Koh Kong province, said yesterday.

“The fact that the court questioned many people is good in order to find the real perpetrator that shot Chut Wutty,” he said. “However, we are worried that those witnesses did not give information to press charges so it’s difficult to find the real perpetrator.”

Neang Boratino called on the court to summon the man known as Chhorn, who had been wearing a military uniform on the day of the incident.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]

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