Four men, three of whom claimed to be journalists, were arrested on Saturday in Oddar Meanchey’s Trapaing Prasat district for allegedly extorting a local businessman for 2.5 million riel, about $625, according to provincial court prosecutor Koy Kanya.
“According to police, the six suspects used old photos to threaten the victim because he used to [be a wood trader],” said Kanya. The suspects left in two cars after dividing the money and were subsequently arrested after the victim, Nov San, filed a complaint with police.
Three of the four arrested said they were worked for small local newspapers: Pav Tit Narong, 32, for Khmer Mchas Srok; Sor Thuch, 41, for Koh Pich; and Sing Sam Ley, 40, editor of Vimean Ekareach. The fourth man, Soeun San, 28, is not a journalist. Police found about half of the allegedly extorted sum.
Leuk Sokha, provincial criminal police chief, could not be reached for comment, but Kanya said none of the four had yet been to court, though they were likely to be charged.
Khmer Mchas Srok editor-in-chief Hang Chakra yesterday said Tit Naroung had previously freelanced for them but claimed his press card had expired, and they had not heard from him for months.
“I request the court and the police to investigate the wood business, too. If the business is legal, why were they afraid of being reported [in the news]?” he said.
Ouk Kimseng, Ministry of Information spokesperson, said he had not received information on the case. He added that the ministry could not do anything in a criminal case.
The Post has reported on numerous cases of alleged extortion involving self-identified journalists who work for little-known or rarely published papers.