Forest patrollers and rights groups are questioning why the Oddar Meanchey Forestry Administration has yet to take action after a soldier transporting illegal timber allegedly beat and threatened to kill a patroller last month.
Patroller Loeut Las and Sorng Rukhavorn community forest chief Venerable Bun Saluth say they have filed complaints to local representatives of the rights groups Adhoc and Licadho in hopes of bringing the suspect to court.
“If I were them, I would not keep the complaint like that,” Las said, adding that he believes the delay is due to the influence of the armed forces. “As far as I know, the suspect is not afraid of anything.”
Community forest patrollers say Regiment 424 soldier Moeng Duong hit Las and threatened to set his family on fire last month after being caught allegedly transporting luxury timber. Forestry Administration officials who were at the scene of the confrontation have confirmed the account.
However, when reached yesterday, provincial Forestry Administration Director Im Savarith said the agency needed more time to investigate.
“It is like trying to catch a cobra,” Savarith said. “If we make a wrong move, the cobra will bite us dead.”
He declined to say when the investigation would end before hanging up.
Regiment 424 commander Sin Pean could not be reached for comment yesterday, but told The Post earlier this week that he had punished and “educated” Duong.
Saluth and Las sent a report to the provincial Forestry Administration shortly after the incident, which took place on January 28. Srey Naren, provincial coordinator for Adhoc, said he plans to file a complaint to the court next week in hopes that they can spur action.