Editor, Logger Arrested in Shooting of Official

A newspaper editor and a suspected illegal logger have been arrested over the shooting of a senior forestry official in Mondolkiri province earlier this month, according to police.

Pum Poeun, the 48-year-old editor-in-chief of Borei Angkor newspaper, was arrested in Phnom Penh on Sunday. Len Kamry, a 37-year-old suspected timber smuggler, was arrested in his Tbong Khmum province home on Friday.

The pair will be questioned by the Mondolkiri Provincial Court today over the shooting of Heng Chantra, the deputy chief of the Sen Monorom City forestry division, who was reportedly tracking illegal loggers when his vehicle was stopped and he was shot in the arm on July 4.

Sou Sovann, Mondolkiri provincial deputy police chief, said that Mr. Kamry had confessed to shooting Mr. Chantra. Mr. Kamry said that he opened fire because Mr. Chantra did not get out of the car to talk with him, according to the deputy police chief.

Mr. Sovann, however, said he believes that Mr. Kamry had other motives in an area of the country where illegal logging by officials and other opportunists has led to a number of violent confrontations in recent months.

“This is just a pretext. It must be related to revenge,” Mr. Sovann said, adding that Mr. Kamry was a small-scale timber dealer.

Contacted Monday, Khai Youlay, publisher of the Borei Angkor, said Mr. Poeun’s wife had told him her husband had simply been tagging along in his capacity as a journalist.

“He told his wife that he was going to get the news, but he did not report to me,” Mr. Youlay said. “Let’s let the law deal with it.”

Mr. Chantra, who claims to have confiscated more than 100 cubic meters of luxury timber in the past three months, was tracking a shipment of illegally logged wood heading for the Vietnamese border the night that he was shot, he said.

At about 10 p.m. that night, a car pulled in front of his, forcing it to stop. He quickly turned around and drove away but the assailant gave chase, cutting him off and stopping again before walking toward him, gun in hand.

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