Logging Protester Accused of Making Threats

A villager trying to stop land and timber giant Pheapimex Co Ltd from clearing the forest in his Pur­sat province commune has been ar­­­rested and accused of threatening to kill company em­ploy­ees, of­ficials and villagers said Sun­day.

Pursat provincial court Pros­ecu­tor Kong Bin said a number of Phea­­pimex employees filed a com­­plaint against Nhem Hul, 52, in November, but he couldn’t re­mem­ber the exact date the al­leged threats were made or when the court complaint was filed.

Nhem Hul was arrested Dec 27 af­ter he went to the Pur­sat military police station to answer questions re­lated to the employees’ com­plaints, Krakor district police Chief Bin Vanna said, adding that an ar­­rest war­rant had been issued by the court.

Kuch Veng, a representative of farmers in Krakor district’s Kbal Trach and Angsar Chambak com­munes, said Sunday that villag­ers only learned of Nhem Hul’s ar­rest on Jan 5. Kuch Veng said a police official had told him that Nhem Hul might also be charged with a gre­nade attack that injured eight pro­testing farmers on Nov 13.

But Bin Vanna said he did not know whether Nhem Hul would be charged with the at­tack, and pro­secutor Kong Bin said the case is still under in­vest­igation and would not say whether the villager would face ad­­ditional char­ges.

Kuch Veng said Nhem Hul had been actively working to stop Phea­­pimex from cutting trees and had accused the police of being be­­­hind the grenade attack.

Villagers in the two communes have been trying to keep Pheapi­mex from clear-cutting forests on their land for months.

Kuch Veng said villagers dropped more than 500 leaflets near the jungle where workers were cutting trees, encouraging the workers to stop cutting and in­stead work to protect the forest.

Opposition party leader Sam Rain­sy visited Angsa Chambak commune Wednesday and said the number of employees working at the site has more than doubled to 700 over the past few months.


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