Three charged with extortion

Source: Khmer Times

Two journalists and a worker for an environmental protection group have been charged with blackmailing a farmer who they said had been illegally farming government land.

The Kampong Thom provincial court prosecutor named the three men as Pao Buthan, 35, a reporter for the Cheath Khmer Newspaper;  Phan Socheath, 40, a reporter for Apsara TV11 based in Kampong Thom; and  Pang Yath, 46, of the Cambodian Citizen’s Rights and Environment Protection Organisation.

They were arrested on Monday and are charged with extorting $800 from a farmer in return for allowing him to keep farming the land and not telling anyone about the bribe.

Ros Darith, a police officer at the court, said they face prison sentences of up to two years if convicted.

Mr Darith said the men approached farmer Yung Sophanun, 32, and told him he had been illegally farming land in Sandan district.

“They allegedly accused the victim of illegally clearing the state’s forest and occupying it as if it were his own,” said Mr Darith.

“They demanded he pay them  in exchange for allowing him to continue ploughing and planting rice crops on the land.”

 

After paying them, Mr Sophanun filed a complaint against them with the district police, who took action against the men.

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