The Kampong Thom provincial authorities sent four suspects to the provincial court on Monday after they were arrested the day before for clearing an area of flooded forest with a tractor in Khsach Chi Ros village, Kampong Kor commune, Kampong Svay district.
Provincial governor Sok Lou confirmed on Tuesday the four suspects had been sent to the court, but he can’t predict how it will decide.
“Our officials have sent the case to court. The suspects have cleared about 10ha of the flooded forest at the above location, which is a protected area where fish spawn during the rainy season. They cleared the land for ownership, so it’s illegal,” Lou said.
Police questioned the four suspects about bulldozing the wetlands at the provincial police office, district governor Un Both said.
“I sent the authorities to check the location but they haven’t reported back yet. I don’t know the size of the land or its history. I am waiting for them to report to me first,” he said.
Provincial police chief Ouk Kosal could not be reached for comment, while provincial Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department director Pen Vannarith confirmed the incident, but declined to comment.
District police chief Khen Chhunkor said on Monday he knew about the case but there was no request for intervention from his forces.
“I think there were enough provincial authorities, so my forces were not requested to help with this work,” he said.
Fresh News had reported that Lou coordinated with prosecutor Sin Virak, Kosal, and anti-economic crime officers to catch the suspects and confiscate the bulldozing equipment.
Authorities retrieved four tractors and three cell phones from four men aged 26, 23, 20 and 17, it said. All the suspects live in Kampong Svay district’s Sankoa commune.