The commander of an RCAF unit implicated in the beating of a Kratie province community forestry activist Monday said his soldiers did not attack the man.
“I did not use any violent acts,” Border Battalion 204 Commander Meas Sopheap said Tuesday.
On Monday afternoon, witnesses said, a group of villagers and two community forestry activists, Mann Sokhy and An En, tried to stop a man from transporting lumber to a military barracks in Snuol district.
The man said it was for his house and promised not to cut more, but Mann Sokhy and some villagers followed the truck to the barracks. Mann Sokhy said the wood being transported was freshly cut, in contravention of a national ban on logging.
Mann Sokhy charged that commander Meas Sopheap emerged and ordered soldiers to beat him. “Some [soldiers] held my hands and my legs, the others beat me,” he said. He was later detained and transported to the district police station but released.
Adhoc investigator Chan Soveth said the activist went to hospital with bruises on his chest but returned home because he couldn’t afford to stay there.
Meas Sopheap said he bought the wood from the villagers to build a bathroom for his military unit, and there is no large-scale logging in the area.
Sum Chuon, deputy governor of Snuol district, said he did not see anyone who had been beaten but said the wood in question was freshly cut. While he said there was no large-scale logging, “there is small-scale logging and the secret transportation of logs.”