The son of slain environmental activist Chut Wutty said he will file a defamation suit against government spokesman Phay Siphan if the official keeps insinuating Wutty was a “great log trader”.
Siphan took to Facebook to accuse the activist of being secretly involved in logging and poaching, just days after US President Barack Obama praised Wutty and the executive director of the Cambodian Human Rights Center, Chak Sopheap.
“My father loved animals and forests as much as his own life. He would never do that,” said Wutty’s eldest son, Chheuy Odom Rasmey, who added that he could easily rally character witnesses who had worked with his father’s Natural Resource Protection Group.
“I will gather communities who worked with my father to be witnesses and talk about his activities,” he said.
Siphan told the Post he would welcome the defamation complaint, saying he only posted on Facebook to show Obama who the real Chut Wutty was.
“I do not want to pick up a fuss with [Wutty’s] family or Cambodian society. I just want to establish that he did not live up to his reputation as a hero or prominent man. He was an opportunist,” Siphan said.
But Chhim Savuth, current director of the Natural Resource Protection Group, said the accusations against the late Wutty are baseless.
“We already know the government does not accept the facts and is always using some kind of pretext,” he said.
“I would support Wutty’s family filing a complaint against Siphan.”
Wutty was shot dead on April 26, 2012, in Koh Kong while he was leading two journalists to investigate illegal logging in the Cardamom Mountains.
The altercation left a military police officer dead as well. The only person charged in the case was the logging company’s security guard, who walked free after serving a few weeks of his two-year sentence for manslaughter.