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Frog sellers cry extortion

Frog sellers cry extortion

POLICE in Pursat province have arrested a journalist accused of extorting money from a number of frog-sellers at markets in Krakor district, officials said yesterday.

Chen Vitou, a reporter for the local newspaper Ta Prohm, was arrested on Friday following complaints from frog vendors at markets in Anlong Thnout commune, who said the 32-year-old had demanded money in exchange for not printing stories about activities he said were illegal.

They accused Chen Vitou of demanding between 10,000 riels (US$2.35) and 20,000 riels in exchange for his killing the stories.

District police chief Leng Song said yesterday that the vendors had done nothing wrong.

"These poor people found frogs in rice fields and lakes, around 3 to 5 [kilograms] each time," he said.

"They sold the frogs for around 4,000 riels per kilo at the markets to feed their poor family, but how can they make money if the reporter is extorting them?"

He said Chen Vitou had not confessed to extortion, and that the reporter said the vendors "voluntarily gave him money".

But provincial police chief Lok Sary said yesterday that the suspect had been released on Saturday after confessing.

"We released him after educating him and instructing him not to do it again," he said. "It did not seem like a serious money extortion, and he confessed that it was his first time."

He said the reporter initially told district police officials that he was given orders by the deputy provincial court prosecutor to demand money.

"But when we contacted the deputy court prosecutor, he told us that this was not the case," he said. "The reporter is just a liar."

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