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NGO workers accused of extortion

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The Kandal Provincial Court has placed a deputy director and two staffers of the NGO Agriculture and Nature Progress Organisation in pre-trial detention on charges of extortion. POLICE

NGO workers accused of extortion

The Kandal Provincial Court has placed a deputy director and two staffers of the NGO Agriculture and Nature Progress Organisation in pre-trial detention on charges of extortion.

Provincial deputy police chief Lak Mengthy told The Post that the suspects were arrested in Kien Svay district on March 20 for extorting between 100,000 and 120,000 riel ($25 and $30) from fishermen – in exchange for not confiscating illegal fish electrocution devices from them in Banteay Dek commune’s Angkor Chey village.

Mengthy identified the trio as Khin Thy, 47, the NGO deputy director, and his two staff members as Nuon Sodany, 49, and Khin Buny, 27.

He said police sent them to court after questioning on March 22.

“Investigating Judge Ouk Sovannarith charged them with extortion under articles 363 and 364 of the Criminal Code,” he said.

The suspects face between two and five years in prison and fines of up to 10 million riel if found guilty.

According to a district police investigative report, on February 21 the suspects extorted 800,000 riel from a fisherman named Theur Hong, 37, a resident of Angkor Chey village, in exchange for not reporting his use of illegal fishing equipment to Fisheries Administration officials.

The next day, the suspects extorted 120,000 riel from another fishing offender named Teuk Dam. Presenting themselves as Fisheries Administration officials, the suspects proceeded to extort money from anyone they discovered using fish electrocution devices. On February 26, the suspects extorted from 120,000 to 150,000 riel each from 19 fishermen who were fishing at the end of the village.

District police chief Prum Samnang told The Post that on March 23, the fishermen filed a complaint with the police station, after realising they had been cheated.

“In the complaint, a group of 18 fishermen said they had committed fishing offenses, but paid the group of suspects – led by Khin Thy, who presented himself as a Fisheries Administration official. Actually, this group are scammers who encouraged people to commit offences purely so they could then fine them,” he said.

He added that the fishermen handed the illegal fishing equipment over to the police and demanded the suspects be brought to justice.

Prum Samnang said that after the arrest, the suspects confessed to extorting money from the fishermen, but denied encouraging them to use the electrocution devices.

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