February 13, 2017

‘Timber transporter’ shot dead

An axe along with other things was seized in Kampong Speu province following an arrest of four suspects alleged for murder of an illegal timber transporter on Thursday. GRK

Phak Seangly, The Phnom Penh Post
Mon, 13 February 2017

Three security guards from a Singaporean-owned company were sent to Kampong Speu Provincial Court yesterday following the shooting death of an alleged timber transporter three days earlier.

The deceased, Run Ret, 27, was hauling five logs of timber he had allegedly felled illegally in the Cardamoms protected area when he encountered three security guards from HLH Agriculture Cambodia and one of their wives in a patrol car on Thursday. According to Buth Bunthoeun, Oral district police chief, the guards stopped Ret because he was crossing company land.

“The guard blocked his way with their car, initiating a scuffle. The victim grabbed an axe and tried to attack the guard,” Bunthoeun said, claiming that Ret had attacked when the guards tried to extort him for a bribe.

Chhorn Vuthy, chief security guard for HLH, retaliated with three shots from an AK-47, killing the smuggler instantly.

Bunthoeun identified the four suspects as chief guard Vuthy, driver Keo Vanna, Vanna’s wife Cheng Champey and security guard Duong Pov.

Chea Hean, director of a local conservation NGO, said HLH security forces often set up checkpoints with the express purpose of extorting illegal loggers hauling timber from the Cardamoms protected area.

HLH, reported to be partly owned by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sister, Hun Seng Ny, has itself been accused of clearing protected forest land multiples times in the past.

Sam Sak, head of the serious crimes office at the Kampong Speu provincial police station, said Vuthy had a military ID card issued in 2010 but did not know whether he is still an active soldier. HLH could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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