SIEM Reap provincial court on Saturday ordered that a local journalist be held in pretrial detention on fraud charges for allegedly extorting US$300 in March from the owner of a timber warehouse in Siem Reap town, officials said Sunday.
Khorn Bora, a 34-year-old reporter for the Ponleu Thmey newspaper, was arrested on Friday at a coffee shop in Siem Reap town’s Slakram commune per the request of deputy court prosecutor Heng Pheng, said Hing Chendareith, chief of the provincial Minor Crimes Bureau.
He added that a second, unnamed reporter was being sought in connection with the case.
Hing Chendareith said that Hun Pho, the 51-year-old owner of the timber warehouse, complained that Khorn Bora and the other reporter had threatened to tell local authorities she was involved in illegal logging activities unless she paid them a $1,000 bribe.
He added that Hun Pho said that she begged the men not to go to the authorities and agreed to pay them $300 to keep quiet, although he said it was unclear whether she was actually involved in any illegal logging operations.
Heng Pheng said Khorn Bora had been charged under Article 45 of the UNTAC criminal code and placed in pretrial detention on Saturday.
Under the article, a fraud conviction can result in a prison sentence of between one and five years.
Um Sarin, president of the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), said Sunday that it would begin investigating the case this week to determine whether the accused reporter had extorted money from the warehouse owner.
He said he had been told by sources in Siem Reap that Khorn Bora had denied the allegations.
Earlier this month, Koh Santepheap reporter Sim Samnang was arrested and placed in pretrial detention in the province after being charged with fraud after he, too, was accused of attempting to extort money from the owner of a timber warehouse.