RCAF Officer Who Sold Land Queried Over Toxic Waste Site

A military commander who sold the land where toxic waste has been dumped has been questioned by Sihanoukville Court, but said he knows nothing about the current scandal.

Ros Teat, an RCAF deputy commander, said Tuesday that in late 1998 he sold the land where the waste was dumped for $3,000 to a Chinese businessman nam­ed Khann Phing.

“I was called by the court to explain my selling the land to a Chinese company,” Ros Teat said Tuesday. “But I am an estate dealer and I only sold the land to them. I did not know that they would use the land to dump waste like that. If I had known beforehand, I would not have sold my land to them at all.”

Ros Teat added that “I cannot imagine what the court is going to do with me after this questioning.”

So far, one businessman and three government officials including Customs Director In Saroeun have been charged in connection with the early December dumping of 3,000 tons of mercury-tainted waste produced in Taiwan. The waste was dumped behind a district military police post outside Sihanoukville town.

Six other government officials were to be questioned and possibly charged last Wednesday, but the court was closed.

Investigating Judge Huon Mony could not be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday. He hung up his telephone twice Tuesday before the caller could identify himself.

Sihanoukville prosecutor Mam Muth, who has turned the case over to Huon Mony, confirmed Tuesday that Ros Teat had been questioned about his role in the case. “The problem with Ros Teat is that he was owner of the land that was sold to a Chinese firm to dump the waste on.”

Mam Muth also said that he understood that Huon Mony had questioned other government officials just prior to the Chinese New Year, but he had no details.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has charged that mid-level government officials are being made the scapegoats for a deal engineered at high government levels.




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