The governor of Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat district will face arrest if he fails to appear for a second summons to Ratanakkiri Provincial Court to answer questions about his alleged involvement in the illegal logging of protected land around the Ou’Sinlair waterfall, the court said yesterday.
The Ou’Sinlair logging scandal has already seen a district land management chief and a local businessman detained and charged with illegal logging, and yesterday, provincial court director Sous Lar said that Lumphat governor Kong Srun could also find himself locked up if he fails to make his scheduled April 23 appearance for questioning.
“The court will release an arrest warrant and initiate whatever the court’s procedures are in the event that he will not come and shed light on the case as [ordered] in the second letter,” Lar said.
Lar said Srun had already failed to appear for a March 28 appearance to clarify his alleged role in “ordering the clearing of forest in the Ou’Sinlair Sanctuary”.
Deputy provincial Forestry Administration director Phan Phoeun said yesterday that he suspected “Kong Srun might be the person behind this crime”.
“That’s why he was asked to shed light on the case at the court after the court had arrested two suspects accused of being accomplices in clearing the forest in the protected area,” he said.
Last Wednesday, Srun said that he had come to Phnom Penh for a meeting, and had taken time off from work because he was ill.
But according to Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, villagers in Lumphat district said that Srun had actually come to Phnom Penh to seek the protection of a high-ranking Ministry of Interior official.
Srun could not be reached for comment yesterday, however a woman who answered the phone and identified herself as his wife said that Srun is in hospital in Phnom Penh for treatment of a serious heart condition.
However, Lar, the provincial court director said yesterday that, “the court needs evidence that is confirmed by the doctor, or else the court will not believe or accept this claim”.