Two police officials accused of detaining and threatening a journalist who photographed a stockpile of illegally logged wood on their property in Mondolkiri province have been fined and “educated,” but no longer being sought by police, officials said on Tuesday.
Still unresolved is a complaint against the pair—Suos Vora, a deputy police chief in Keo Seima district, and Mr. Vora’s younger brother, Suos Angkea, a local border guard—filed by Doem Soeun, a reporter for the Apsara News Network.
Mr. Soeun filed the complaint at the provincial court last week. It accuses the brothers of deleting the photos he took from a nearby mango tree, threatening to beat him and detaining him for more than an hour.
Since filing the complaint on Thursday, Mr. Soeun says he has received telephone calls from unidentified people asking him to reveal his location, and that he now fears for his safety.
“Since the case happened, there have been many anonymous people calling me and my wife, asking, ‘Where are you now?’ When we asked them, ‘Who are you and where are you from?’ the callers hung up. And when we called back, their phones were switched off,” he said on Tuesday.
Long Hokmeng, the provincial court’s chief prosecutor who accepted Mr. Soeun’s complaint, could not be reached. Court spokesman So Sovithya, however, said Mr. Hokmeng had not yet assigned the case to a deputy prosecutor.
“When the case arrives in the prosecutor’s hands, the prosecutor can issue a warrant to summon [both sides] immediately, or it could take a week to issue the warrant,” Mr. Sovithya said, adding that the prosecutor could also decide to dismiss the case entirely.
Chuy Sokheng, chief of the Forestry Administration’s Keo Seima division, who inspected the illicit timber found inside Mr. Vora’s residential compound, said the brothers came to pay a fine for the wood “a few day ago,” well within the 30-day window granted to them.
“According to Forestry Administration procedures, if they had not appeared, we could have arrested them. But they came on time, so it’s OK,” Mr. Sokheng said, refusing to reveal the amount of the fine.
The brothers were also “reprimanded” and “educated” by provincial police chief Touch Yun over the weekend, according to deputy provincial police chief So Sovann.
“Our duty was simply to reprimand the bad officials who made a mistake,” he said. “Whether they should be sent to the court is not our decision.”
sokhean@cambodiadaily.com
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