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

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Quarantine site in north Phnom Penh inaugurated

    A four-building quarantine centre in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district was formally inaugurated on January 6. The centre can house up to 500 people, according to Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng. At the inauguration ceremony, Sreng said the municipal hall had cooperated with the Ministry

  • ‘Beware of WhatsApp fraudsters’

    The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications warned members of the public who use WhatsApp to vigilantly guard against a new trick employed by hackers that involves the use of six-digit codes sent to potential victims via the popular messaging app. The ministry said hackers could