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Mondulkiri police question Adhoc

Villagers inspect a deforested area in an economic land concession owned by Villas Development in Mondulkiri
Villagers inspect a deforested area in an economic land concession owned by Villas Development in Mondulkiri province last week. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Mondulkiri police question Adhoc

Three rights monitors were called in for questioning by Mondulkiri provincial police after they filed an attempted murder lawsuit against a land concessionaire employee last week, claiming they were violently denied access to an area under investigation for forest crimes, Adhoc said yesterday.

Adhoc provincial coordinator Sok Rotha, 29, told the Post yesterday that even though he accompanied his assistant Bun Chantha, 49, and volunteer staffer Le Kao, 29, to the provincial police station, only Chantha was questioned by Hou Dara, provincial chief of the serious crimes unit.

All three men filed lawsuits last Wednesday and are seeking $10,000 in damages against Sok Khom, a manager of ELC Villas Development, which is co-owned by the wife of provincial deputy governor Yoem Luch.

The three allege that Khom slammed his car into Chantha’s motorbike and aggressively denied them access to the area under investigation.

No more questioning of the three men was deemed necessary yesterday until further instructions are handed down from the court, according to Dara.

Sen Monorom commune chief In Iev said yesterday that he was unaware of the incident and that Villas Development had been legally clearing the area since 2010.

Yesterday, Sok Khum flatly denied all accusations being lodged against him or Villas Development, claiming he was unaware of any lawsuit filed against him.

“No, I do not like the accusations. I drove my car to them to ask them to leave, because they had entered company-owned property without permission.”

Villas Development could not be reached for comment.

Adhoc’s investigation of the area began after villagers filed complaints at Adhoc’s provincial office earlier this month, alleging that since 2011, Villas Development and rogue loggers have illegally razed
an estimated 3,000 resin trees.

Resin trees are a vital source of income for the Phnong ethnic community in Sokdom commune, according to Thleuk Phearom, 32, the daughter of a representative of Lao Ka village, who is leading efforts to collect thumbprints from affected community members with the intent of delivering them to authorities and relevant NGOs next week.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AMELIA WOODSIDE

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