The Kandal Provincial Court on June 22 charged five news reporters, a mototaxi driver and a coffee shop owner for alleged involvement in money extortion and an illegal gambling operation in Kraom village of Mok Kampoul district’s Prek Anhchanh commune.
Provincial court spokesman Chuon Sokpanha told The Post on June 22 that the prosecutor charged the reporters and mototaxi driver under articles 372 and 373 of the Criminal Code and the coffee shop owner under Article 5 of Law on the Suppression of Gambling .
The reporters, from little-known Bati News, and a taxi driver were arrested and referred to court on June 21 for allegedly extorting money from the coffee shop owner who was also held for running an illegal gambling operation.
Lak Meng Thy, the provincial police’s minor crime bureau chief, said that when the reporters and driver arrived at the coffee shop on June 19, they met its owner and demanded $100 in exchange for not spreading news about the gambling operation.
The shop owner offered $20 but they rejected and posted news about the gambling on Facebook, at which point the shop owner called police who arrived at the scene and arrested all of them. The shop owner had previously been warned by authorities not to operate an illegal gambling den, Meng Thy said.
Pen Bona, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said he had repeatedly urged journalists to carry out their work ethnically and professionally and refrain from exchanging their services for money or other gains if they wanted to contribute to improving society.
“For example, if we [journalists] see a place where a wrongdoing is committed and we take [money] in exchange for not publishing news about that offence, we cannot help society. Instead, we create an even bigger problem for society and ourselves because there is enough evidence for police to arrest them,” he said.
Bona said police can take legal action against any journalist who commits an offence.
“If action is taken against only journalists while offenders whom journalist reported about can still roam freely, that would not solve the problem either.
“So police must launch an investigation and then take action against all offenders so that all can join hands to make our society better,” Bona said.