Third Man Arrested in Shooting of Mondolkiri Forestry Officer

A man suspected of aiding two others in the shooting of a forestry official in Mondolkiri province in July was arrested at the Poipet International Checkpoint on Saturday while attempting to flee to Thailand and has been charged with hiding evidence, officials said Wednesday.

Heng Chantra, deputy chief of the Forestry Administration’s Sen Monorom City division in Mondolkiri, was shot once in the left arm on the night of July 4 while investigating a report that several vehicles packed with illegally logged luxury wood were attempting to cross into Vietnam.

Mondolkiri Provincial Court prosecutor Ya Narin said Wednesday that Sles Triya, 35, a local timber dealer, was not suspected of having been at the scene of the shooting but confessed to disposing of the handgun that was used.

“Triya is not the shooter, but he is guilty of hiding the evidence,” Mr. Narin said. “We charged him yesterday [Tuesday] with hiding evidence and he is now in pretrial detention.”

Mondolkiri deputy police chief Sou Sovan said authorities were tipped off to Mr. Triya’s role by Len Komray, 37, another timber dealer who was arrested over the shooting on July 17 and has confessed to pulling the trigger. He said Pum Poeun, 48, a reporter for the Angkor Borei newspaper, was arrested on November 11 and has confessed to being with Mr. Komray at the shooting.

Both Mr. Komray and Mr. Poeun have been charged with attempted murder.

According to Mr. Sovan, the pair claims they were drunk and shot Mr. Chantra after he pulled their car over and began arguing with them. They deny that they were transporting illegally logged wood.

“We have questioned the three people and they all told us the same thing, that they shot the forestry official because they were drunk. But I think the shooting was revenge because they were angry at the officer for taking action while they were transporting illegal wood,” he said.

Contacted Wednesday, Mr. Chantra said it was Mr. Poeun who had shot him and that he was demanding 200 million riel (about $50,000) in damages.

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