Almost two weeks after he was sentenced in absentia to 18 months in prison for shooting and injuring three garment workers during a protest, police have said they still do not know the whereabouts of the former Bavet City governor Chhouk Bundith.
Now, a local news website hopes to hasten the manhunt by posting a bounty for any information that leads to his capture.
Started just four months ago, Deum Tnot News on Tuesday posted online that it would give a cash award of 7 million riel, or about $1,750, to any member of the public who provided information leading to the outlaw’s arrest.
“The purpose for providing the reward for the arrest of Chhouk Bundith is to strengthen the judicial system in Cambodia and to give valuable publicity about this arrest warrant,” said the website’s managing director, Hok Ren.
“This case is impacting the garment sector while the perpetrator remains at large,” Mr. Ren said.
He added that cash for the reward was raised by fans of Deum Tnot News, mostly students and civil servants who strongly believe that families of the victims are being denied justice as long as Chhouk Bundith remains free.
Human rights group Licadho welcomed the reward as a way for members of the public to assist police in their so far fruitless efforts to locate and arrest the former governor.
“This sort of participation helps strengthen the law by showing people that they can exercise their rights by providing information to police officers,” said Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for Licadho.
“It is an obligation of the police to arrest the defendant, yet we are concerned because when people report information to the police, the police need to protect them and guarantee their safety,” Mr. Sam Ath said.
Svay Rieng provincial police chief Koeng Khorn said his officers had yet to find any trace of Chhouk Bundith. “We don’t know yet where he is,” he said, declining to comment further.
Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, declined to comment.
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