Friday, 23.5.2008: Three Journalists Were Arrested and Chained Just because They Asked for Information about a Truck Carrying Wood

Posted on 24 May 2008. Filed under: Week 561 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 561

“Kompong Thom: Three journalists were arrested by Santuk District Police under direct order by a Kompong Thom court prosecutor, and they were chained at midnight, because these three journalists were covering information about a truck carrying wood at 7:15 p.m. of 21 May 2008 at Kompong Thma Village, Kompong Thma Commune, Santuk District, Kompong Thom. Police said they were arrested on the accusation of attempting to extort money from the owner of the wood, while a prosecutor said they were accused of deception.

“The arrest of the journalists and the confiscation of reporting equipment, and sending them to the police station and then chaining their legs at midnight, just in response to the accusation from the owner of wood alone, seem to be too fierce an action to implement the law, and these acts also seem to threaten the journalists in general.

“The director of the Kompong Thma commune forestry administration, Mr. Mao Chanthy, said that his police arrested the three journalists based on a direct order from the Kompong Thom court prosecutor Mr. Ti Sovinthal, on the accusation that they tried to extort money, and besides this, he did not know anything more. The three arrested journalists are 1. Ruos Chanti, 2. Tob Suon – both of them are reporters for Samleng Santepheap – and 3. Suon Sinat, a reporter for Meatophum, and all of them live in the Prasat Commune, Santuk District, Kompong Thom, and in the Balang Commune, Baray District, Kompong Thom.

“Santuk District police chief Mr. Mat Moly, called Diyamong, declined to make any comments for Kampuchea Thmey and used very fierce words like, ‘What? You force me to explain? I will not explain, because I was busy with a meeting.’

“Mr. Ruos Chanti, the Samleng Santepheap reporter who was chained in the morning of 22 May at the Santuk District Police station, told Kampuchea Thmey with a sad face that this was a very painful experience, and it is not just for all three of them.

“Mr. Ruos Chanti said that at 7:00 p.m. of 21 May 2008, the three of them drove on two motorbikes to the Kompong Thma market, and by chance they saw a Korean 2.5-tonner-truck carrying wood used for construction, mixed with some new wood, and wood was piled up on the pavement at the above mentioned village, and then they went to ask for information and twice took photographs, when suddenly the prosecutor and the police arrived, and the prosecutor ordered the police to arrest the three of them.

“The Kompong Thom court prosecutor Mr. Ti Sovinthal told Kampuchea Thmey by phone that he ordered to arrest the three journalists because they were extorting money from the owner of the wood, as he pointed at the three journalists saying that they extorted money from him.

“Mr. Ti Sovinthal continued that the three journalists tried to extort Riel 450,000 [approx. US$115] from the owner of the wood, which made the owner of the wood almost faint, but the prosecutor affirmed that the person who received the Riel 450,000 was a person called Eng, and he is not a journalist among the three journalists arrested, and Ti Sovinthal said he did not accuse them of extorting the money. That would be too serious, but he accused them of deception, based on Article 45 [?] so they can be detained or not, depending on investigating judges. However, the person who received the Riel 450,000 named Eng will not be able to escape, because he had already issued an arrest warrant for him.

“Regarding the reasons leading to the arrest of the three journalists and the explanation by the prosecutor, there are many opinions mainly from some people in legal professions, saying that obviously there was no evidence and no witness to prove that the three of them had extorted money from the owner of the wood, because also the prosecutor said that they did not get the Riel 450,000. The prosecutor just got the information from the owner of the wood alone, and also there was no police who had directly seen the money that the owner of the wood gave the three journalists, and they did not hear anything from the three journalists speaking about money extortion, and there is no witness and no evidence to prove that they extorted or were trying to extort money.

“It is said that wood is being loaded from Tum Ring to Kompong Thma almost every day, and almost all wood merchants pay money to the forestry officials and to the police everywhere, and also the Kompong Thom forestry administration and the Santuk District Police chief get their benefits. Therefore, if journalists want to disclose the crime of illegally transported wood, those who destroy the natural resources are not happy. So it is likely that maybe they put the blame on the three journalists unjustly.

“A man who directly witnessed the event said that the three journalists did not say anything to extort money from the owner of the wood; they just asked where the wood was carried from, to whom money was paid, and whether there was a legal permit for the wood or not.

“While the owner of the wood answered their questions, claiming that there was a legal permission and money had been duly paid to every place, the journalists also took immediately pictures of the truck, when suddenly police and the prosecutor arrived, spoke to the owner of the wood, and arrested the journalists. Police officials of Kompong Thom said that they would start to defeat the journalists.

“Many journalists are observing these events and are waiting to see the next actions that will be taken by the powerful prosecutor Ti Sovinthal, the Kompong Thom court prosecutor, towards the three journalists. However, what makes our journalists interested is to see if the detention is just a pretext to extort money [from the three arrested journalists, so that they will be released].” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1648, 23.5.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 23 May 2008

Areyathor, Vol.15, #1329, 23-24.5.2008

  • Phnom Penh Has a Center for Education and Treatment of Drug Addicts [at Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1648, 23.5.2008

  • Three Journalists Were Arrested and Chained Just because They Asked for Information about a Truck Carrying Wood
  • Scandal at Center for Social Development Revealed [executive director Ms. Seng Theary is said not to respect some internal regulations]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.9, #582, 23.5.2008

  • [Director of an institute of civic studies] Chhim Phal Vorun Revealed that the [US based] International Republican Institute Cut Aid because [the former president of Cambodian Center for Human Rights and now the Human Rights Party president] Kem Sokha Was Corrupt [he said so on the Sambok Khmum Radio]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #160, 23.5.2008

  • Sam Rainsy’s Lawyer [name not mentioned] Shifted Date to Appear to Explain to the Court over Hor Namhong’s Lawsuit
  • Burmese Embassy in Phnom Penh Prohibits Officials of the Sam Rainsy Party to Express Condolences to the Victims of the Tropical Cyclone
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay: In the Third Term, the Government Has Power to Entirely Control the National Assembly

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6352, 23.5.2008

  • On 30 May 2008, Chief Monks of Both Sects [the Thammayuth and the Mohanikay] Will Draw Lots to Assign Numbers to All the Eleven Parties on Ballot Papers
  • The World Bank Granted Cambodia US$30 Million for Maintenance Projects and US$11.5for Provision of Land Titles
  • Cambodian Security Ranks 91 while Thai Security Ranks 118 [global peace index]
  • Fifteen Women Were Burned in Kenya [they were accused of using ill will sorcery to kill other people]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4596, 23.5.2008

  • World Class Billionaire [21st in world rank – Han Chang-Woo – 한창우] Launched “Maruhan Japan Bank” in Cambodia [with Japanese capital participating]
  • Crude Oil Price Climbs Up to US$135 per Barrel [on Wednesday, 21 May 2008], Indonesia Faces More Protests

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3316, 23.5.2008

  • Each Party Has Only Eight Minutes to Present Its Policy on Cambodian National Television [TVK]
  • It is not believed that the [Phnom Penh] Municipality Dares to Truck Rubbish to Put It in Front of the CINTRI [rubbish collection] Company

Snadai Khmeng Wat, Vol.8, #146, 23-25.5.2008

  • Cambodian Police Cooperates with Thai Police to Arrest [deputy chief-of-staff of the Cambodian Military Police, now in Thailand] Ms. Chea Ratha [related to acid attack]

Have a look at last week’s editorial: How NOT to avoid critical reflection

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