Authorities on April 1 detained two men suspected of clearing some 20ha of wetland at Area 3 in Khun Rang and Chhnok Trou communes in Kampong Chhnang province’s Boribor district. Fisheries Administration officials are questioning the men.
Chhim Ban, chief of Boribor Fisheries Administration Cantonment, said authorities investigated the area on March 29 and saw that the land had been cleared.
“I reported the incident to the Fisheries Administration and that led to the identification of two suspects. A case file has been prepared to be sent to court for further action,” Ban said.
The men were identified as An Thea, 39 and Chim Ra, 37, both residents of Khun Rang commune.
Provincial Fisheries Administration director Ly La said the two had denied the allegations, and officials allowed them to return home temporarily, but they remain suspects in the crime.
“They claimed that they cleared only 1.5ha of land which they have farmed since 2015,” he said, adding that authorities are further investigating the case to bring the perpetrators to justice.
An and Chim could not be reached for comment.
According to Ly, the wetland was frequently cleared and filled for private ownership, but Fisheries Administration officials and provincial Military Police have cracked down on perpetrators and reclaimed it as state land.
Ly called on the local communities to alert the authorities when they see any wetland encroachment, so that they could take immediate action.
Boribor district governor Yim Sarin said on April 1 that most crimes took place at night, and the wetland bordered rice fields, making it difficult for authorities to differentiate between legitimate farming and criminal activities.