The director of Kampong Speu’s provincial Forestry Administration and environmental watchdog ACNCIPO have sued five people in the provincial court for allegedly clearing 112ha of the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary in Sre Kin village.
The lawsuit, which was filed by ACNCIPO director Chea Hean on Monday, named the defendants as Soeun Nak, Mork Mann, Mork Meth, Khieu Saroeun, and Sre Kin Village chief Im Sorn. They all live in Sre Kin village, Trapaing Chor commune, in Oral district.
The complaint states that on March 5, ACNCIPO officials surveyed the O’Pongro area of Sre Kin village and saw the men trying to illegally encroach on up to 112ha of forest land at Trapaing Chor commune.
On June 8, officials asked the provincial department of environment to seal off and seize the land as it is state property.
The complaint said on June 11, the environment department issued an order directing officials to guard the property but they were threatened by associates of the defendants and barred from carrying out their duties.
Hean said on Tuesday that Nak, the alleged ringleader, had filmed him and had brought more than 10 people with long sticks and knives to threaten him.
“I filed the case against the five on charges of criminal conduct, including obstructing officials from doing their jobs and illegally clearing forest land”.
Hean said he is demanding legal punishment and 100 million riel ($24,000).
Kampong Speu provincial deputy prosecutor Khai Samphors said on Tuesday that he had not yet received the case file.
Trapaing Chor commune chief Tep Nem told The Post on Monday that the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary had been grabbed by a small group of people based in Sre Kin village.
“I have heard from some that Sorn urged people to encroach on the land and I have told him several times not to do so as it is state land.
“If he still doesn’t listen, then let the environment officials handle the matter according to their procedures,” Nem said.
Sorn said on Tuesday that the accusations against him are unfounded.
“I have not been involved with the land in that area. I am willing to be punished if I am involved with the land and let Hean sue. I am not afraid to appear in court because I do not know those people,” he claimed.
Provincial Environment official Chou Chandararith said on Monday that more than 100ha of the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary had been encroached upon by villagers.