The 23-year-old son of the director of rural development in Pailin province is under investigation by police after photos of the young man hunting protected wildlife went viral on social media, police said Monday.
Soeu Longdy, deputy Tuol Lvea commune police chief, said his officers questioned Koeun Nam Chhauk at his home on Sunday.
“I received an order from the [Pailin] city police chief to build a report on the hunting case and get the name of the boy for investigation,” he said.
“We questioned the boy yesterday but he denied he had been hunting. He said he just joined in eating the wildlife meat with his relatives.”
Over the weekend, photos showing Mr. Nam Chhauk on what appeared to be a hunting expedition were widely circulated on Facebook.
In the photos, Mr. Nam Chhauk can be seen displaying the carcasses of a dead leopard cat and several squirrels, posing with a gun, and helping prepare the meat for cooking along with two other men whose faces can’t be identified—one of them dressed in fatigues. There are also photos of two dead mouse deer.
Pailin City police chief Lim Veasna said that the provincial court started to investigate the case after the Facebook photos surfaced.
“I received an order from the prosecutor [Chum Sensothea] to build a report on the boy’s hunting after the photos of the dead wildlife animals were posted on Facebook,” he said.
Mr. Sensothea, the prosecutor, said that he planned to open a formal preliminary investigation into the alleged crime.
“I already ordered local authorities to build a report for me, then we are going to open preliminary investigation regarding the hunting soon,” he said. “We will charge him if we find that the boy is really involved with the hunting.”
Neth Vibol, an assistant to the CEO of Wildlife Alliance, said the hunters could face steep fines and prison time.
“It is illegal for people to hunt endangered species and rare species and they could be jailed up to one year and be fined to 10 million riel [about $2,500] if they killed or caused injuries to wild animals,” he said.
When contacted Monday, Sor Monny Roath, director of the provincial department of rural affairs, defended her son and denied that he was part of the hunting.
“My son never hunted wild animals, he just joined to eat the meat with his relatives,” she said.
© 2014, Aun Pheap. All rights reserved.