The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday charged six people, including a provincial director of water resources and a commune chief, for their involvement in creating illegal fishing reservoirs in Kompong Thom province.
“They were charged with clearing a flooded forest for encroachment and illegally constructing reservoirs,” said Chan Soveth, deputy head of Adhoc’s monitoring program.
Brigadier General Sear Sambath, deputy chief of the national military police’s investigation and research commiserate, confirmed that the court charged the group but said he did not know what the charges were. “The court decided to provisionally detain the six suspects and we sent them to Prey Sar prison already,” he added.
Samprorch commune chief Peanh Poul, provincial director of water resources Cheat Syvutha and four farmers—Meng Phally, Theang Thea, Thav Tum, and Yuk Kimlen—were arrested Tuesday for their role in clearing the forests. Earlier this month, the group was identified during a coordinated crackdown on the fishing reservoirs in which military police confiscated dozens of excavators across the province.
Kea Chhay, a lawyer for four of the suspects including Mr. Syvutha, insisted that his clients were innocent. Adhoc’s Mr. Soveth said he was pleased by the court’s willingness to pursue a suspect who is a high-ranking member of the government.
“I think the government’s implementation on this case is good, but implementing it as such is a small amount. Please do this in all cases,” he advised.