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Villagers accuse NGO of extortion

Villagers accuse NGO of extortion

Three staff members of a local NGO that campaigns against resource exploitation were charged yesterday with extorting money from loggers in Stung Treng province.

The three staffers from the Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organization (NRWPO) stand accused of extorting groups of loggers out of at least $75 in Siem Pang district’s Chantu village on Thursday, according to Siv Samet, a provincial director of the military police’s crimes unit.

“They are NRWPO officials.… They should not extort money from people,” he said.

The accused are Sek Sarath, 50, Chea Krisna, 22, and Deng Lorn, 41, a director of the NRWPO in Stung Treng.

Villagers reported the alleged extortion and the three were arrested on Friday, a military police officer in Siem Pang said.

Boeung Ratha, a country director of NRWPO, questioned the reporters’ motives.

“We went to see and prevent the timber business people. But they were timber military police, and I know all the residents in Siem Pang district are timber armed forces,” Ratha said.

Ho Sam Ol, a coordinator of rights group Adhoc in Stung Treng province, said if the three were charged, numerous corrupt military and police officials should also be investigated.

“Military police and forestry administration officers … also amass money in this way.”

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