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Provincial court hears illegal gold mining, poisoning case

Provincial court hears illegal gold mining, poisoning case

Three men deny accusations in Preah Vihear that they poisoned local people, livestock and water supplies in illegal gold mining operation. 

THREE men appeared at Preah Vihear's provincial court accused of poisoning livestock and local water supplies with chemicals that they used for illegal gold mining operations.

The men, who first appeared in court last week, were summoned after the provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy brought the case against them.

"I filed a complaint against the three men because I believe they were destroying natural resources by using chemicals to mine gold," said Sam Leang Ny, the director of the department.

Sam Leang Ny said the chemicals used in the makeshift mines were responsible for killing about 100 buffaloes and calves within a few months, and poisoning local rice paddies and lakes, which made local residents ill.

"I have evidence and witnesses. It is not only us that have complained, but also villagers and local authorities," Sam Leang Ny said.

Denials from the accused

Appearing in court last week, two of the suspects claimed they had permission to build the gold mines. The third - Ny Him - denied involvement.

"I was in court on Thursday and I told the prosecutor that I did not operate these gold mines. I just sent machines there at the end of last year," Him Ny told the Post Tuesday. "So I am not worried because I haven''t done anything wrong. It was done by other people."

Prosecutor Keo Sim said Tuesday that the other men - Pen Soung and Mao Simoun - denied the allegations.   

"They told me they did not use chemicals and that they had permission from relevant officials [to build the mines]," he said. "It is their explanation, but I am continuing to investigate."

Local rights group Adhoc previously accused Ny Him of running illegal mining operations in the past two years.

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