A woman was injured in Kratie province’s Sorb commune after two local journalists tried to chase down a suspected illegal logger, prompting extortion accusations from the timber hauler.
Sa Buntha, the commune police chief, said that the accident occurred on Sunday afternoon, when driver Sieng Sok The’s mini-tractor veered into the woman as the journalists pursued him on a motorbike.
After the incident, the tractor and the timber were impounded at the police station while officials investigated the cause of the accident.
Sok The claimed the accident occurred because he was evading two journalists who were demanding money and asked police “to intervene and arrest the two”, Buntha said.
Sok The told authorities he had a permit to transport the timber. Buntha said he was investigating the accident first, and would look into the legality of the timber afterwards.
Illegal logging is rampant in Cambodia, with authorities often turning a blind eye in exchange for bribes. Self-described journalists also sometimes look for a cut, threatening to publish damning photos and stories if not paid hush money.
Buntha, meanwhile, said that he did not believe Sok The’s claim. “I think his answer is just an excuse to get free without taking responsibility for his mistake,” he said.
Khem Phaly, one of the journalists in question, also denied the charges, claiming he was simply trying to document suspected illegal logging.