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Ranger summoned over burning of cottages in Kampong Speu

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Cottages were burned by authorities because they believed the structures had been illegally built on a protected area in Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo supplied

Ranger summoned over burning of cottages in Kampong Speu

A wildlife sanctuary ranger named Thorn Chan from Kampong Speu’s Oral district was summoned to the provincial police station on Tuesday after a local complained that he lead a joint force into Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary to destroy cottages which were allegedly illegally built.

Nom Ron, from Trapaing Chor commune’s Samrong village who made the complaint, said in April, a village military commander known as Nak, Chan and 10 of their associates stole a solar power panel and two batteries while also setting solar power panels worth five million riel on fire and destroying many crops.

In the complaint, Ron insisted police arrest the suspects and demanded $10,000 in compensation.

Kampong Speu provincial Department of Environment deputy director Nov Nak told The Post on Wednesday that he joined Chan and visited the land in question to clarify the matter.

He said the removal of the cottages was not illegal because they were built on a protected area managed by his officials, who had made the cottage owners sign an agreement which said they would remove them, but they failed to do so.

“This is in the protected forest area and they [the cottage owners] cleared the land for themselves,” he said.

Provincial police chief Sam Samoun could not be reached for comment, but a provincial police officer who chose to remain anonymous told The Post on Wednesday that the police had asked Chan about the matter.

Environmental watchdog ACNCIPO director Chea Hean told The Post on Wednesday that he was investigating the offenders who cleared the land in the wildlife sanctuary.

“It is forest land in the Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary area and it was cleared. Forest rangers found no individuals on the land, only cottages. So, they destroyed the cottages to find out who they belonged to,” he said.

Concerning the police summons, Hean said when there is a statement from Chan, the police might summon others involved with the burning of the cottages.

He mentioned that the cottages were burned nearly a month ago but land clearing in the area had lasted for several months. The land in question, Hean said, covered 20ha.

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