Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Three summoned for questioning in illegal gold-mining probe



Three summoned for questioning in illegal gold-mining probe

Three summoned for questioning in illegal gold-mining probe

Preah Vihear official says rogue operators used banned chemicals to find gold, causing livestock deaths and sickening residents

 Bitter Prospects

In September, ethnic minority villagers and police in Preah Vihear province clashed with illegal gold miners, forcibly confiscating mining equipment. Villagers had complained of skin diseases and livestock deaths as a result of chemical use, police said.

PREAH Vihear provincial court has summoned three men to appear in court next week for questioning after the court received complaints they used banned chemicals for gold mining in Preah Vihear's Rovieng district, killing cows, buffaloes and damaging local residents' health.

Prosecutor Keo Sim said Thursday that he issued a summons January 30 calling Ny Him, Pen Soung and Mao Simoun to appear in court on Thursday to clarify complaints he received from the provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy.

"I have called both the suspects and the victims to court. I have not charged the suspects because I need to investigate the case first," he said.

Poisonous activites

King Krida, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture, said Thursday that the authorities had cracked down on a similar operation in 2007 but that the past few months have seen an upswing in unlicensed mining activities.

"They are using chemicals to find gold mines. They are destroying nature, harming people's health and killing cows and buffaloes," he said.

"They have no permission to operate here, and they are violating the law."

Hor Neat, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said that Ny Him was the ringleader of the operation, having previously led two groups on similar operations since March 2007.

They have no permission to operate here and they are

violating the law

He said the prospectors had used acid chemicals to erode rock and reveal hidden gold deposits, but that the chemicals had leached into nearby waterways, killing an estimated 17 cows and 143 buffaloes from August to November last year.

Hor Neat added that local residents have become sick from the chemicals, complaining of shortness of breath and other illnesses.

"The court issued a summons because more than 300 people have complained for the authorities to crack down on [this operation] because they are destroying people's health and property. They shall be punished according to the law," he said.

But suspect Ny Him denied the allegations, saying he made a living from a small family business in the area.

"Let them accuse me. I do not use any chemicals, and my operation has not yet started. Other people used chemicals last year, but they have stopped doing it since then," he said.

"I will go to court to tell them I have done nothing wrong."

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from