Officials Detained Over Illegal Checkpoints

Battambang provincial police detained and released four RCAF soldiers, two environmental officials and one forestry official for allegedly erecting illegal checkpoints, police said Thursday.

Officials said the detentions are part of a crackdown in the wake of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s speech last month threatening to remove provincial officials if checkpoints appear in their provinces.

Patrol policemen picked up the RCAF soldiers and environmental officials in Sampov Loun district’s Santepheap commune at 11 pm Tuesday, Battambang First Dep­uty Police Chief So Sam An said.

“They had a duty to patrol the wildlife sanctuary, but they took time to have a checkpoint to make money,” he said.

He said the forestry official was found taking money from a motorbike trailer loading charcoal in Bavel district’s Kdol Tahen Leu commune.

All seven were released after signing statements promising not to erect checkpoints again.

Battambang Governor Prach Chan asked the police to clamp down on illegal checkpoints in response to the prime minister’s speech during a Dec 4 school inauguration in Kompong Speu province, So Sam An said.

“If you can’t destroy illegal checkpoints along the roads there is no need to be provincial or district governors,” he said.

Patrols have mostly eliminated illegal checkpoints within the province, So Sam An said. But some are still secretly erected at night for brief periods between patrols, he said.

Ros Thoeun, director of the Roniem Daun Sam Sanctuary, and Chhay Yuop, director of Battam­bang’s Environment Department, both said they were unaware of the detentions.

Ros Thoeun said he did not believe that his staff would have set up checkpoints. He said the two environmental officials were asked to bring poles to mark sanctuary boundaries, adding that they could have been cracking down on illegal logging.


Two-thirds of the 178,750 hec­tare sanctuary lie in Battambang province and one-third in Banteay Meanchey.


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