Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Men charged in bulldozing protected forest

Men charged in bulldozing protected forest

Men charged in bulldozing protected forest

120726_06

Two men charged with encroachment on protected land exit Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Photograph: Meng Kimlong/Phnom Penh Post

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged two government officials and four farmers from Kampong Thom province’s Stoung district with encroachment onto protected land after they allegedly bulldozed a flooded forest that was designated as a protected fish hatchery, police and NGO officials said.

Hang Thol, deputy commander of Kampong Thom’s provincial military police, said that on Tuesday, authorities arrested Cheat Sivutha, director of Kampong Thom’s Department of Water Resources and Meteorology, and Sam Proch, the local village chief, along with farmers Meng Phally, Chum Teav Thav Tum, Theang Thea and Kim Leng for destroying the markers denoting the protected land’s boundaries, then converting it to reservoirs and irrigation canals for rice farming.

“I have yet to know what action the municipal court will take against them,” Thol said, adding that authorities confiscated 45 pieces of excavating machinery in the crackdown. “Grabbing flooded forest land has a serious impact on fish shelters, because in the rainy season, fish come to spawn in the area.”

Chan Soveth, a senior investigator for the human rights group Adhoc, said the suspects were questioned at the order of Judge Sen Neang, adding that the charges are encouraging for villagers in the area because the authorities had previously acted with impunity.

“We will assist the court in implementing the law and condemning [the suspects] for what they committed, and hope that after questioning they are not freed,” he said.

Va Sakda, Phnom Penh municipal court prosecutor, said that the case was sent to the investigating judge, but refused to comment further.

Judge Seng Neang, who signed the group’s arrest warrants, could not be reached for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • US to ramp up sanctions after ‘flawed’ national polls

    At a press conference on Wednesday, the US State Department announced that it would expand visa sanctions on the Cambodian officials and individuals it deems responsible for “undermining democracy” in Cambodia. At the briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that the department regarded the July 29 elections

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National