Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - No action on standoff claim

No action on standoff claim

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Soldiers and a Forestry Administration official pose for a photo last month with illegal timber that was seized in Kampong Speu’s Oral district. Photo spplied

No action on standoff claim

Gunshots were fired in a tense standoff between two armed groups in Kampong Speu province’s Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary last month, prompting a court investigation into what happened.

Members of the NGO-sponsored Wildlife Rapid Response Team (WRRT), which is comprised of armed forest rangers and overseen by the Wildlife Alliance, had attempted to impound 6 cubic metres of luxury timber in the sanctuary on June 10.

However, the five military officers allegedly transporting the timber had other ideas.

Led by a military officer identified to the court as Choeung Theng, the soldiers have been accused of “interfering with the authorities, concealing evidence of forest crimes and attempted murder”, according to a complaint filed to the court.

More than 20 days after the complaint was filed on behalf of the WRRT by local forest network the Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organization (NRWPO), a court official yesterday admitted that no action had been taken.

The six plaintiffs are Major Sieng Um, a military police commander; Second Lieutenant Mel Saream, a military police officer; Second Lieutenant Be Chamreun, a soldier from Region 3; Khy Horm, a military police officer; and Wildlife Alliance employees Chorn Hong and Kong Chetra.

Um said the WRRT had stopped a Hyundai truck loaded with more than 750 planks of Pchek timber totalling more than 6 cubic metres, on June 10.

The driver bolted, but as the WRRT officials were leaving the area, a car blocked their path and guns were pulled on the rangers by a group of soldiers.

“His truck was loaded with illegal timber, but he pointed the pistol at us to rob it back. He yelled that no one is able to take his items away,” he alleged.

“When we refused to hand him back the truck and timber, he wanted to shoot at us and swore at us badly. He walked around with the gun pointed at us.”

The WRRT team then fired several warning shots in the air, causing the soldiers to retreat and giving the rangers time to call for backup.

Theng could not be reached yesterday.

Chea Hean, the Kampong Speu director of the NRWPO, said he was preparing to forward the case directly to the Ministry of Justice if an investigation was not launched.

The lawsuit was stamped with a court seal on June 15, however Keo Sothear, the provincial prosecutor, said he had only received the documents yesterday.

“I just got the lawsuit a few minutes ago. I do not know why [it was delayed].

I am checking it in order to take legitimate actions,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • ‘Single Portal’ integrated registration system welcomes nearly 50 firms

    Forty-seven companies have successfully registered via a newly-launched information technology e-business registration platform as of the end of the second week of this month, Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Phan Phalla said. Six ministries and state-run institutions have been integrated into a

  • Battambang artist brings giant animals to life

    The giant reptile’s gaping mouth appears ready to consume its latest victim. It stands taller than a person and is incredibly life-like with authentic colours, a long spiky tail and detailed scales adorning its entire body. If it wasn’t 13m long, you may

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the