Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tampuon man ordered to appear in court over Ratanakkiri forest clearance

Tampuon man ordered to appear in court over Ratanakkiri forest clearance

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ratanakkiri provincial court summons Kham Nin (pictured) to appear for questioning over forest clearing charges Photo supplied

Tampuon man ordered to appear in court over Ratanakkiri forest clearance

A man as summoned to appear at the Ratanakkiri provincial court in February for questioning over forest clearing charges, said a court order signed by a provincial investigating judge dated January 10.

The court order, obtained by The Post on Tuesday, said that Kham Nin, 39, an ethnic Tampuon, currently possesses 39ha of land, located in Seda commune’s Keng San village, in Lumphat district.

He was charged in September last year for crimes as stated in the Law on Natural Protection Area and was summoned to appear in court on February 12.

However, Nin denied all charges, claiming that they were an act of revenge by Keng San village chief Nhor Angkuot after Nin filed a defamation lawsuit against him in 2017 for colluding to sell state land and allowing Vietnamese nationals to cut down trees in the protected area.

Nin said that early in 2014, the village chief borrowed 20 million riel ($4990) from him to build a village hall and promised to pay him back after authorities had allotted the national budget for the village.

However, having no money to reimburse him, Angkuot issued a letter granting a plot of land in exchange for paying his debt.

“In the end, he issued a letter, allowing me to possess a plot of land. Now, he filed a lawsuit claiming I cleared the [forest] land,” he said.

Nin said he would obey the summons and appear in court. Angkuot and Seda commune chief Ang Bunthieng declined to comment on the issue.

In October 2017, Angkuot, Bunthieng and eight other provincial officials were sued by Nin, other community members and Pen Bunna, the senior land and natural resources investigator for rights group Adhoc.

The lawsuit claimed they colluded to sell state land and allowed traders to deforest the land between 2014 and 2017.

The lawsuit also claims that they had allowed Vietnamese nationals to cut down luxurious timber wood in Keng San village and transport it to Vietnam at a rate of about 20 trucks per day between March and April in 2017.

Bunna said the court should look at the defamation lawsuits, which claimed that the provincial authority ignored the loss of hundreds of hectares of forest land.

“It is very unfair to accuse Nin of illegal forest land clearing. We also need the authorities to take legal actions against those who cut down hundreds of thousands of hectares of forestland and converted it into personal property without following proper procedures."

“This is a crime. If they punish Nin, the court should punish others who have illegally cleared hundreds of hectares of the forest,” Bunna said.

Ratanakkiri provincial court spokesman Keo Pisoth told The Post on Tuesday he was not sure about the issue and could not comment.


  • Breaking: US House passes 'Cambodia Democracy Act'

    The US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on Monday, passed the “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, also known as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. If signed off by the president, the bill will allow two major sets of action to be taken against high-ranking Cambodian

  • ‘Zero-dollar’ tours under fire

    Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has blamed “zero-dollar” tour operators for the decrease in foreign tourists to Angkor Archaeological Park in the first half of this year and has called for action against them. Angkor Archaeological Park received 1.24 million foreign visitors in the first half

  • Some jobs off limits to foreigners from August

    Beginning from the second week of August, foreigners will be banned from driving taxis and tuk-tuks, as well as being motorcycle delivery drivers, street food vendors, hairdressers and product distributors among other lower-income jobs. Some white-collar jobs such as the head of human resources will

  • Breaking: Rubbish found packed inside 83 containers at S'ville port

    Eighty-three containers packed with rubbish were broken open at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port by joint authorities on Tuesday. The origin of the containers has yet to be ascertained, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said. Pheaktra, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state, said