The Kompong Speu Provincial Court on Saturday charged three men with illegally establishing an armed force, illegally using weapons and wearing fake military uniforms after they were arrested for operating a fake roadside checkpoint to extort money from loggers, officials said on Sunday.
Provincial court prosecutor Keo Sothea said the men—identified as Chhin Horn, 35; Nang Samit, 56; and Chim Meng, 38—created an unlawful armed force by wearing Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) uniforms in order to extort money from people committing forestry crimes in Oral district.
“We already charged the three people, and they are now in pretrial detention at the provincial prison,” he said. “We are searching for many more accomplices because we found they were involved in the creation of this group to threaten and extort money for forestry crimes.”
Mr. Sothea added that the men were also charged with extortion and establishing a fake checkpoint.
Deputy provincial police chief Som Sak said Mr. Horn and Mr. Samit were arrested on February 12, two days after police caught Mr. Meng at the checkpoint on a small road in Oral district’s Tasal commune.
“The three people are not military officials, but they used military uniforms and used illegal weapons to threaten and extort money from people who were transporting the wood,” Mr. Sak said, explaining that the men were in possession of AK-47s when they were arrested.
Mr. Horn and Mr. Samit were arrested by police while traveling in a Toyota Land Cruiser with a real RCAF lieutenant colonel, Im Thy, who escaped on foot and is believed to have supplied the assault rifles, he said.
Mr. Sak added that police were searching for Mr. Thy to arrest and question him.
“We received a warrant from the court yesterday to arrest the lieutenant colonel because after investigation, we found this person was involved with the three arrested people,” he said.