Sanc­tu­ary chief ac­cused of ‘col­lu­sion’

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Khouth Sophak Chakrya

THE Koh Kong prov in­cial joint com­mit­tee will con­tinue its probe into the Dang Paeng Mul­ti­pur­pose Pro­tected Sanc­tuar y af­ter so­cia l me­dia posts a lleged t hat man­grove forest­land had been cleared in t he area wit h t he col­lu­sion of sanc­tuar y of f icia ls.

Koh Kong pro­vin­cial deputy gov­er­nor Sok Sothy told The Post yes­ter­day that re­cently, the pro­vin­cial joint com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gated a man­grove for­est clear­ing case in Chamkar Krom vil­lage, Sre Am­bel com­mune, in Sre Am­bel district.

“We found man­grove for­est clear­ings, but it was not as much as claimed on so­cial me­dia. Our com­mit­tee is look­ing fur­ther into the case,” Sothy said.

Koh Kong pro­vin­cial depart­ment of en­vi­ron­ment head Morm Phalla said a nearby vil­lager cleared the forest­land him­self and ad­mit­ted that it was for cul­ti­va­tion.

“We mea­sured the cleared site and it was 7.000sqm. We have also re­moved [the vil­lager] from the land.

“This case is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by a group of in­spec­tors from the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment,” Phalla said.

Sre Am­bel district res­i­dents sus­pect that Meng Tech, the head of the Dang Paeng Mul­ti­pur­pose Pro­tected Sanc­tu­ary, and Sorn Sey, a sanc­tu­ary of­fi­cial, col­luded with those re­spon­si­ble for the de­for­esta­tion and are prof­it­ing from the mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of the land in some form.

While Tech con­firmed to the The Post on Tues­day that the crime oc­curred in the ter­ri­tory, he claimed that he and sanc­tu­ary of­fi­cials in­ter­cepted [the vil­lager], im­me­di­ately re­moved him from the area and in­structed him to sign a con­tract to im­me­di­ately de­sist his ac­tion.

“The crit­ics just make base­less al­le­ga­tions. But we, as law en­forcers, must ful­fill our obli­ga­tions prop­erly to pre­vent crimes in ar­eas un­der our con­trol,” he said.

Tech named the vil­lager con­cerned as Seang Mengkuon, and said he lives in Ban Tiep vil­lage, Dang Paeng com­mune.

SUP­PLIED

The Koh Kong pro­vin­cial joint com­mit­tee says it is to con­tinue its probe into man­grove clear­ances.

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