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Sanctuary chief accused of ‘collusion’

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The Koh Kong provincial joint committee says it is to continue its probe into mangrove clearances. Photo supplied

Sanctuary chief accused of ‘collusion’

The Koh Kong provincial joint committee will continue its probe into the Dang Paeng Multipurpose Protected Sanctuary after social media posts alleged that mangrove forestland had been cleared in the area with the collusion of sanctuary officials.

Koh Kong provincial deputy governor Sok Sothy told The Post yesterday that recently, the provincial joint committee investigated a mangrove forest clearing case in Chamkar Krom village, Sre Ambel commune, in Sre Ambel district.

“We found mangrove forest clearings, but it was not as much as claimed on social media. Our committee is looking further into the case,” Sothy said.

Koh Kong provincial department of environment head Morm Phalla said a nearby villager cleared the forestland himself and admitted that it was for cultivation.

“We measured the cleared site and it was 7.000sqm. We have also removed [the villager] from the land."

“This case is being investigated by a group of inspectors from the Ministry of Environment,” Phalla said.

Sre Ambel district residents suspect that Meng Tech, the head of the Dang Paeng Multipurpose Protected Sanctuary, and Sorn Sey, a sanctuary official, colluded with those responsible for the deforestation and are profiting from the misappropriation of the land in some form.

While Tech confirmed to the The Post on Tuesday that the crime occurred in the territory, he claimed that he and sanctuary officials intercepted [the villager], immediately removed him from the area and instructed him to sign a contract to immediately desist his action.

“The critics just make baseless allegations. But we, as law enforcers, must fulfill our obligations properly to prevent crimes in areas under our control,” he said.

Tech named the villager concerned as Seang Mengkuon, and said he lives in Ban Tiep village, Dang Paeng commune.

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