The Kampong Thom provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are building a case to the provincial court regarding the illegal clearing of flooded forestland that it said had destroyed the national fish sanctuary in Kampong Kor commune’s Khsach Chiros village in Kampong Svay district.

Department director Pen Vanrith told The Post that the case was sent to provincial court on May 1 so that investigators can begin a search for the suspects and bring them to justice.

Vanrith said he had not yet identified the individuals who had ordered the clearing of the flooded forestland and that when his team reached the area the suspects fled, leaving behind only two tractors and an excavator.

"We seized their machinery ... I don’t know who or how many of them were involved. The court will investigate and take further action," he said.

However, provincial Fisheries Administration director Horm Hon said on May 1 that the person who ordered the clearing of the flooded forest was Chok Nguon – a judge in Svay Rieng province. And the excavator owner’s identity was known and a case was filed to the court for legal action.

Kampong Thom provincial court prosecutor Sin Virak told The Post on May 3 that the court had not yet received a complaint from the agriculture department.

He said the delay may be due to the fact that May 1 was a public holiday or because Fisheries Administration officials were still working on it.

According to Virak, the provincial court has enforced the laws related to encroachment on flooded forestland in other cases with penalties imposed in accordance with the law, but the sentences was at the judge’s discretion.