Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Two sought for illegal sale of forest area

Two sought for illegal sale of forest area

Two sought for illegal sale of forest area

OFFICIALS in Oddar Meanchey province are seeking the arrest of a village chief and a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces officer who they say have illegally convinced 200 families to settle in a protected forest area and pocketed payments for plots of land.

Von Bunthoeun, the head of administration for the Forestry Administration office in Samraong town, said officials planned to arrest Kim Saruon, the chief of a village located some 50 kilometres away from the protected forest area. Von Bunthoeun said they were also seeking a deputy provincial chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, whom he could identify only as “Sok”, and “other leaders who have encouraged some soldiers and villagers to seek illegal shelter in the protected forest community”.

“We cannot ignore them anymore,” Von Bunthoeun said.

He said 200 families had settled in the protected area, and that the vast majority of them had arrived since the beginning of this year. He said they had paid between US$300 and $350 for 30-by-50-metre plots of land.

“Kim Saruon has cheated the people by selling this protected forest land to them and by acting as a village chief in the area,” he said.

Mlis Hoeurt, who administers the protected forest area, said it was granted protected status last June, but that 10 families moved there towards the end of 2009. The increase from 10 to 200 families has occurred since January, he added.

“They have destroyed a lot of forest in this community, because they cut down the forest to take over the land,” he said of the families.

Samraong governor Thon Nol said he had received a complaint from the military and also from the families requesting to stay on the land permanently.

Srey Naren, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the actions of “Sok” and Kim Saruon indicated a lack of respect for the government.

The two men could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • NOCC to contest petanque, tennis axe

    The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia will lobby hard over the next few weeks for the inclusion of the Kingdom’s most productive medal-earning sport, petanque, along with vovinam and tennis after the disciplines were left out of the initial list of 30 preferred sports for