A local journalist and a forestry official were arrested by military police in Kratie province’s Sambo district on Friday night for allegedly discharging a weapon into the air and beating a man with a boat oar in an extortion bid gone awry.
According to district military police commander Chung Sokunthea, Khuth Khy, a reporter for the Khmer-language newspaper Today News, and Sandan Forestry Administration director Seng Chantarun allegedly set upon a man in a rowing boat while attempting to extort money from him for transporting luxury wood.
“This journalist and the forestry official were arrested by our military police forces after they opened fire to threaten and stop a boat rower on the river who had stocked and carried two pieces of luxury wood for making beds for his own use,” Sokunthea said, adding that the victim had suffered an injury to his shoulder.
Sokunthea said the pair were allegedly attempting to handcuff victim Tith Phally, 32, when Phally began to protest.
“To stop the victim’s protesting, Seng Chantarun fired three bullets in the air, and Khuth Khy entered [the boat] and used the oar to beat the victim,” he said, adding that the pair had been sent to the Kratie Provincial Court to be charged yesterday.
Kan Vannorng, deputy chief of the Sambo district police, said a trend had recently emerged of local journalists attaching themselves to provincial forestry officers in Kratie and stopping people involved in the timber trade, demanding bribes in return for not reporting on their activities.
The Post has reported on several instances in which journalists have been accused of using their position to extort money.
Ek Visarakkhun, secretary of the Press Council of Cambodia, said he had not officially received any information about Khy’s arrest, but the PCC did not support journalists who abused their positions for money.
Khy, Chantarun and court officials could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]