Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Koh Kong cops catch culprit recruited by clearing cartel



Koh Kong cops catch culprit recruited by clearing cartel

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cleared forestland is shown in Koh Kong province’s Botum Sakor district on Wednesday. Photo supplied

Koh Kong cops catch culprit recruited by clearing cartel

Butom Sakor district administration officials in Koh Kong province arrested a suspect last Monday who was logging in a flooded forest in Angdong Teuk village in Angdong Teuk Commune, while four of his accomplice fled the scene.

Koh Kong provincial Environment Department director Man Phala said yesterday that illegal loggers have cleared 45ha of the forests, which prompted them to carry out the operation to arrest the culprits.

The arrest has exposed how a land-grabbing cartel is operating in the area to acquire forest land after hearing the value of land prices are on the rise. Local workers were hired by the cartel to clear the forest when authorities are not monitoring the area.

Phala lamented that the group failed to protect the natural forest and the wildlife sanctuary.

“The land which the offenders cleared was a flooded forest located in the Dang Peng Multiple Use Area in Botum Sakor district, Koh Kong province, which is a protected area for the community."

“We intercepted them when they were conducting the clearing works on Monday. Five people were involved, but only one was arrested while four others fled into the forest,” he said.

Phala said after interrogation, the suspect admitted that he was hired by a group to clear the forest but was unable to reveal any details about the people who ordered him to do the job.

“Based on his feedback, it appears he was hired to clear the forest but has not met the employer himself."

“He got the job through other people. At the moment, we are preparing a case to send him to court. The court has already issued a warrant to detain him temporarily,” he said, identifying the suspect as Sen Mao, 36.

Botum Sakor district governor Tou Savuth said people carry out land clearing for profit when authorities were elsewhere.

“As far as I know, they clear the land because of land price increases. But clearing of flooded forest is rare since we constantly monitor and intercept them,” he said.

The district covers the Andong Teuk and Thmor Sar communes and is about 120,000ha.

“We notice the group finds it difficult to clear the land secretly when we step up our surveillance, but they resume their logging work once we slow down. It is very hard to stop them,” said Phala.

Villagers living in Botum Salor district who declined to reveal their identities said once the land is cleared, a group takes ownership and later sells it to land dealers or private companies.

They said the forest clearing works have been going on for about two weeks.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from