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Provincial court drops Chut Wutty case

Provincial court drops Chut Wutty case

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Chut Wutty pictured in Prey Lang forest earlier in 2012. Photograph: Mathieu Young/Phnom Penh Post

Five months after the fatal shooting of forestry activist Chut Wutty, Koh Kong Provincial Court dropped his case this morning, saying they would only be looking into the shooting of the man who allegedly killed Wutty.

Speaking at the start of the long-awaited trial, Judge Khan Sophary announced that the hearing would focus only on the case of Ran Boroth, who stands accused of the unintentional murder of Wutty's killer, as the "perpetrator was already dead" in the case of Wutty.

In April, Wutty was shot to death while investigating logging firm Timbergreen. Military police officer In Rattana was also shot to death.

Over the course of several days, authorities offered a series of bizarre and shifting explanations, eventually settling on a scenario in which Rattana shot Wutty following a heated argument and Boroth—hoping to protect two journalists with whom Wutty was traveling—accidentally shot Rattana while trying to disarm him.

During a trial that lasted just one and a half hours, witnesses, lawyers and Boroth himself hewed perfectly to the story.     

Police Lieutenant General Mok Chito, who headed a joint investigation committee appointed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, echoed Boroth's statement, testifying that the investigation determined his actions had been motivated solely by the desire to protect the journalists.

"What I did was just to protect other people," Boroth, who was employed as a Timbergreen security guard at the time of the shooting, told the court.

"I had no desire to shoot In Rattana to death, because he is my close friend."

A verdict in the case is expected on October 8.

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

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