Minister of Environment Say Samal requested that the Mondulkiri provincial governor remove Han Sokhorn from his position as director of the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary office after determining that he was guilty of “professional misconduct”.

In his letter to the provincial governor, dated February 2 and seen by The Post on February 27, Samal said Sokhorn was found to have “committed mistakes and wrongdoing that affects the honour and dignity of the civil servants.”

“[Sokhorn is required] to be present every working day at the provincial environment department offices without any duties and to abide by the laws, regulations and instructions of the environment department,” the letter said.

It also said that Sokhorn is required to be under court monitoring and under the implementation of suspended sentences from the court.

However, deputy governor Cheak Mengheang told The Post on February 27 that the provincial administration had not yet received any official letter from the ministry about the termination of Sokhorn from the position.

“Once the provincial administration receives the official letter from the environment ministry, we will assign the environment department and relevant institutions under the Mondulkiri provincial administration to follow the letter’s content immediately in accordance with procedures,” he said.

Provincial department of environment director Chao Bunthoeun told The Post that he had just received the letter on the morning of February 27 and that he was unaware of any wrongdoing by Sokhorn.

“I have just been appointed as the director of the Mondulkiri provincial environment department recently, so I do not know what actions Sokhorn may have committed that were wrong. So, at this time I am reviewing and implementing the instructions according to the ministers’ letter,” he said.

Sokhorn could not be reached for comment on February 27.

According to information from a ranger with the provincial department of environment, who asked not to be named, Sokhorn was allowing forest crimes such as logging and poaching to take place at the O’Huch area on the border between Keo Seima and O’Raing districts of Mondulkiri province, which is under his jurisdiction.

He said Sokhorn is also accused of using his position to encroach on state forest land in the wildlife sanctuary area to take it for his personal property.