Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ranger arrested for shooting in Jolie-Pitt Foundation area

Ranger arrested for shooting in Jolie-Pitt Foundation area

An environmental ranger and a community member have been charged over allegedly firing at Duch Thy (pictured), 58, when he refused to stop after being spotted hauling timber inside a protected area supported by the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation. Photo supplied
An environmental ranger and a community member have been charged over allegedly firing at Duch Thy (pictured), 58, when he refused to stop after being spotted hauling timber inside a protected area supported by the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation. Photo supplied

Ranger arrested for shooting in Jolie-Pitt Foundation area

An environmental ranger and a community forest member on Tuesday were released from prison under court supervision following their brief detention after allegedly firing at a suspect hauling timber within a protected area supported by the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation in Battambang province.

The Ministry of Environment ranger, Sok Toeut, 43, and the forest community member, Dieb Somuntha, 60, were patrolling the Samlot protected area on Friday when they spotted a tractor loaded with wood and ordered the driver to stop. When he refused, Somuntha allegedly shot at him.

Toeut is employed by the ministry but also receives part of his salary from the foundation, founded by Angelina Jolie to promote conservation in Cambodia’s northwest. Somuntha also receives a small salary from the organisation to patrol.

Oun Fai, chief of the crime office with the Battambang Provincial Police, said the man transporting the wood, Duch Thy, 58, filed a complaint to police, which led to the arrest of Toeut, Somuntha and two other rangers, who were released shortly afterwards on Sunday.

Fai claimed after Thy refused to stop, Somuntha became angry and took Toeut’s AK-47 rifle and fired at the tractor.

“[Thy] had a chainsaw, [and was] driving a tractor to look for wood at the protected area,” he said. “He got some wood to make charcoal. They saw him and fired to flatten the tyres of the tractor hauling the wood.”

Both sides committed a crime, he acknowledged, though Thy was not arrested.

Toeut was charged with “carelessness” in handling his weapon under Article 21 of the Law on the Management of Weapons, Explosives and Ammunition, which carries a maximum two-year prison sentence. Somuntha was charged with “intentionally causing damage” based on Article 410 of the Criminal Code, which also carries a maximum two-year prison term.

Thy, meanwhile, was charged with clearing forestland under Article 59 of the Protected Areas Law, though he remains free.

“He used a chainsaw and drove a tractor into the prohibited forest, which is a protected area. Therefore, he is also guilty,” Fai said. “However, the court will make a decision to arrest or not.”

Tieng Sambou, spokeswoman for the provincial court, said Investigating Judge Ly Sokha decided to release the duo under court supervision after questioning them on Tuesday. Sambou wasn’t able to provide further comment.
Kong Mony Chan, director of the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, declined to comment on the case.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry issues warning over coronavirus outbreak

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to

  • First case of coronavirus reported in the Kingdom

    Cambodia reported its first case of the deadly 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Monday, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng announced. He said medical specialists detected the virus in a Chinese tourist in Sihanoukville. The minister said Jia Jianhua, 60, travelled from Wuhan city, where the outbreak

  • PM urges precaution amid virus outbreak

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday called on all Cambodians to bump up precautions to avoid contracting the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has already killed more than 50 people in China. The prime minister told the public to remain calm but alert about the possibility of

  • Gov’t slams NGO over 2019 corruption report

    The government on Thursday slammed a report that described the Kingdom as highly corrupt. Government spokesperson Phay Siphan dismissed the latest Transparency International (TI) report as “just an advertisement of NGOs to promote their own interests”. Released on Thursday, the report puts Cambodia near the

  • Gov’t answers garment buyers’ complaint

    Some of the biggest buyers in the Kingdom’s garment sector have urged Prime Minister Hun Sen to address issues faced by unions and workers – a request a senior official said was out of touch with the situation on the ground. The letter addressed to

  • NBC’s digital payments to go live in next few months

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) will launch a Blockchain-based, peer-to-peer payment and money transfer platform in the next few months, its director-general Chea Serey told The Post on Monday. Dubbed ‘Project Bakong’, the scheme already has the support of 11 banks, with many more expected