Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Police chief denies firing officers

Police chief denies firing officers

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ratanakkiri police have denied reports that four policemen were removed from their positions for allowing 12 Vietnamese nationals to bring items of machinery across the border to clear land. Photo supplied

Police chief denies firing officers

The Ratanakkiri provincial police commissioner has denied local media reports that four policemen were removed from their positions for allowing 12 Vietnamese nationals to bring items of machinery across the border to clear land in a protected National Park.

Local news media had named the four as Kantuy Neak border post chief Huong Phuong; his deputy Teu Chay; Prachou Priev, the head of O’Tayak border checkpoint; and O’Yeul border post chief Phoeun In.

The reports claimed they were relieved of their positions due to their failure to adequately patrol the border and thus allow 12 Vietnamese men to bring in six vehicles – including bulldozers and other land clearing machinery – to illegally clear the protected area in Virak Chey National Park.

“This is not true. The four police officers who were mentioned were questioned, but they were not involved in allowing the Vietnamese to bring in the equipment. They had asked to take leave, for health reasons, 10 days before it happened,” Ratanakkiri provincial police chief Yin Chamnan said.

He said when the policemen were summoned to discuss their request, they said they wanted to transfer from their positions leading the border posts to serve as normal officers at the 203 Border Protection Headquarters, citing “health issues which make it difficult to lead the patrol team”.

Chamnan said a Ratanakkiri provincial police task force was working with relevant authorities to find and punish whoever allowed the Vietnamese to illegally import the machinery.

Soeung Sen Karuna, the spokesman for human rights group Adhoc, expressed his support for the police’s efforts to find the truth in the case and their refusal to punish innocent officials.

“This case involves local authorities and border officials, so provincial and national authorities should intensify their investigation to uncover the truth, find those responsible and deliver suitable punishment according to the law."

“Without collaboration with border police or local authorities, those people could not bring six large vehicles into the country to clear forest land in a protected area,” he said.

On April 16, while patrolling Virak Chey National Park, Ratanakkiri Military Police arrested the men for crossing the border into Cambodia and illegally clearing the forest land in Taveng district’s Taveng Loeu commune.

Following their detention, authorities confiscated documents from the 12 men naming Sek Vireak, 43, a representative of Cambodian firm Noupheap Sophy Investment Co Ltd.

The documents showed that the company had rented the six items of machinery to a Vietnamese company named Manh Le Gia – represented by Nguyen Luong Lac – to level the land concession in order to grow crops.

Police also found an additional document showing that Vireak rented the land in question to a Vietnamese national named Vo Nguyen Sa for $70 per ha per year.

On April 21, Investigating Judge Leng Vannarith charged the 12 Vietnamese men with “crossing the border without legal permission” according to Article 29 of the Immigration Law and “importing machinery for illegal forest clearing and taking forest land as personal property” according to Articles 56, 58 and 62 of the Law on Natural Protected Areas.

They are currently being held at Phnom Svay prison awaiting a court hearing and other legal procedures.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,