source : Phnom Penh Post
The Justice Ministry has been asked to intervene in regards to claims that a suspect and her accomplices illegally grabbed and cleared 51 hectares of protected land in Kampong Speu province’s Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary.
Natural Resources Wildlife Preservation Organization director Chea Hean submitted a letter to the minister Ang Vong Vathana on Monday outlining a complaint against Soeung Samen, Ou Samrech Chesda and Sam Om Nort for illegal land clearing.
The document claims the organisation was told by villagers early this month of gunshots sounds coming from the land in question.
Upon inspection, environmental rangers in the area found bulldozers which had cleared 51 hectares and looked to be starting on another 100 hectares.
Workers Mel Mal, Kel Sao and Kong Hean were found at the site and claimed their boss had fired the shots for fun.
The three claimed they worked for Samen and Samrech Chesda who were clearing the land for Seng Tieng, an allegedly well-connected land investor.
Hean on Tuesday said he requested the ministry to probe the clearing of protected forest land.
“To return all the illegally cleared land will help to preserve state properties. We requested the authorities to re-plant the trees and punish the culprits according to law,” Hean said.
Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap said he is yet to receive the complaint and referred The Post to Sorn Sophorn, its cabinet director. However, Sophorn could not be reached for comment.