Three men shot dead on the Vietnamese border

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Re: Three men shot dead on the Vietnamese border

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As part of their defense, the suspects have accused their victims of being open to the offer of a bribe, as if that would make the murders acceptable, and this has been reported as fact in a number of news outlets. However, not everyone believes this version of events.
Provincial police chief Ouk Samnang rejected the notion that the victims had negotiated to allow the illegal logging to continue.

“It’s an accusation from the suspects, who just confessed. It is not the truth. Our police officers are still investigating to find out the facts,” he said
.

It is reported here that an eye-witness to the shooting escaped into the forest. He may provide a different story.
The WCS official died later on the way to hospital and the other victim, Mr Nga, escaped from the scene.
The investigation continues.
http://www.khmertimeskh.com/50106910/sh ... ook-bribe/
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Re: Three men shot dead on the Vietnamese border

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Wildlife Conservationists Encouraged by Cambodia’s Pursuit of Justice in Murder Case of Three Rangers And Committed to the Protection of Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary
Rangers Were Killed on January 30

Article ID: 689504
Released: 13-Feb-2018 6:05 PM EST

Newswise — The Wildlife Conservation Society is encouraged by the Cambodian Government’s actions pursuing justice in connection to the murder two weeks ago of three rangers, including one WCS staff member, and is committed to continue working with the authorities and other partners to protect the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.

Teurn Soknai, Ministry of Environment Ranger; Sek Wathana, Military Police Officer; and Thul Khna, WCS SMART Officer, were killed on January 30th in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary (KSWS) while they were patrolling forest near the Cambodia-Vietnam border. They were killed when returning from the O’huoc border area after locating an illegal logging camp and confiscating chainsaws. South-east Asia is plagued by criminals illegally logging and Keo Seima has been one of the targets for the illegal trade in luxury wood.

Ken Serey Rotha, Country Program Director of WCS Cambodia, said: “We will not be deterred in our support of our Cambodian partners who are courageously working to safeguard our country’s wildlife in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary. Our work in Keo Seima is not easy as the loggers, land-grabbers and poachers ruthlessly target our natural resources and our people, but we will not succumb to their total disregard of the law and the importance of the forest to local communities, biodiversity and our nation. With the continued implementation of the SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) patrol system and with the support from REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) partners we all remain committed to the successful management and protection of Keo Seima.

“In honor of our murdered rangers and all the defenders of the forest, the ranger patrols in Keo Seima continue. We acknowledge the positive action taken by the government to bring justice for the families of the victims; we are also grateful that the false extortion accusations against the victims are being debunked. No one should use this tragic event to advance any agenda or to question the resolve of the rangers, the relevant authorities, and NGO partners to protect the forests of Keo Seima.”

https://www.newswise.com/articles/wildl ... -sanctuary
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Re: Three men shot dead on the Vietnamese border

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Mondulkiri police chief transferred out month after fatal ambush
09 March 2018 | 09:50 ICT
Mondulkiri Provincial Police Chief Ouk Samnang has been transferred to the Penal Department at the Interior Ministry of Interior a month after three forest patrollers were gunned down in an ambush near the border.

Lao Sokha, the former Kandal provincial deputy police chief, will replace Samnang, who assumed the position less than eight months ago.

Mondulkiri provincial administration spokesman Heak Sophan denied that the transfer had anything to do with the shooting in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.

Six suspects, including RCAF Regiment 103 head Keut Veha and O’Rolear border post chief Phal Penh, face charges in the shooting and are suspected of shooting the patrollers after they confiscated logging equipment.

“It is normal to change civil servants,” Sophan said yesterday, noting that the former provincial police chief had been stationed in Mondulkiri for “nearly eight months”.
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/m ... tal-ambush
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Re: Three men shot dead on the Vietnamese border

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5 April 2018
Image
Mondulkiri:
On April 5, the police investigation into the shooting of the three forest rangers continued as forty-five policemen, accompanied by the principal suspect, went into the dense forest to comb the crime scene today for clues.
Teurn Soknai, Ministry of Environment Ranger; Sek Wathana, Military Police Officer; and Thul Khna, WCS SMART Officer, were shot dead on January 30th in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary (KSWS) while they were patrolling forest near the Cambodia-Vietnam border.
Image
A spokesman said that the investigation of the crime scene is a lengthy process because access to the border region is difficult, the vegetation is dense, and there are very few tracks.
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Re: Three men shot dead on the Vietnamese border

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A bad start to the year for environmental defenders.

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https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... -the-world
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Re: Three men shot dead on the Vietnamese border

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September 11, 2019
Court tries four over murders of forest conservationists
The prime suspect over the killings of three conservationists in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province last year has confessed to the murders while claiming he shot down the victims because they reneged on a deal to accept bribes.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday began the trial of three military officers and one border post chief over the killings on January 30, 2018, when forest ranger Tern Soknai, National Military Police officer Sek Vathana and Wildlife Conservation Society official Thol Kna were gunned down during a routine patrol in O’ Raing district’s Pouyam village.

Presiding Judge Sor Sota identified the four as former chief of O’Rolear border post Phal Penh and former military officers Kert Veha, Kert Veta and Chheang Vannith.

Deputy court prosecutor Long Cheab said that 12 days before the killings, four Vietnamese loggers allegedly bribed Mr Penh and Mr Veha with about $430 in exchange for protection from arrests as they cut down trees in the protected area.

He said at about 11am on January 30, 2018, the three victims went on patrol deep within the forest and encountered the four loggers.

As the victims were seizing the loggers’ equipment, one logger, who goes only by Chin, called Mr Penh to demand the protection they were promised.

After receiving the call, Mr Penh and Mr Veha took their AK-47 assault rifles and arrived on motorbikes to intervene.

Image
Forest ranger Tern Soknai. National Police
“After Mr Penh and Mr Veha arrived at the scene, Mr Penh walked toward Mr Soknai, who was also wielding an AK-47,” Mr Cheab said. “Mr Penh then fired five bullets at Mr Soknai, killing him on the spot.”

“After shooting Mr Soknai, Mr Penh ordered Mr Veha to seize Mr Soknai’s weapon,” he added. “Mr Penh then drove off and killed the other two victims, who were about 60 metres away from where Mr Soknai was shot.”

Mr Penh on Monday said he killed the victims because they lied to him after agreeing to free the loggers and relinquish their equipment in exchange for half of the $430 bribe.

“I shot them because I was angry with them for not keeping their promise. They agreed to receive five million Vietnamese Dongs [about $200] from me in exchange for freeing the Vietnamese loggers and their equipment,” Mr Penh said. “They later reported [the crimes] to the provincial court prosecutor.”
Full article: https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50642141/c ... ationists/
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Re: Three men shot dead on the Vietnamese border

Post by SternAAlbifrons »

Why, did they shoot?
Alcohol, meth, ego, too long in the bush... ?? Very stupid anyway.
These guys knew full well that the CWS/Military Police/MoE patrol came with some heavy duty institutional back-up.
Possibly a warning from local higher powers - but personally i doubt that.
A moment of madness, psychologically reinforced by by a culture of impunity.

As for the bribery allegations..
One.
They come from corrupt officials, illegal loggers and smugglers who have a vested interest in disparaging those they murdered.
Also note, the details and the amounts if the bribery claims have changed over time.

Two.
A few staff of the "big five" KH/Intntl conservation orgs have been caught engaging in corrupt activities over the past 25 years.
However, especially given the context, it is a tiny number. They are probably amongst the cleanest orgs in the land.

The Cambodian scientists, technicians and administrators that staff these orgs are amongst the finest group of people that i have ever met, anywhere.
Their education is amongst the best in the country, due to international input into the relevant university courses and training. They are carefully selected for not only being extremely capable, but especially for their personal dedication to protecting Cambodia's natural heritage.
That is their culture, a very strong culture. Brave men doing a job they loved.

Three.
It is unfortunate that WCS has not publicly challenged these allegations against a murdered staff member, and against a patrol that was under its direction. Not very loyal and supportive - on the face of it.

However we should remember the very thin ice on which these orgs walk.
They are always under threat of having their permissions to work in certain areas revoked.
Getting thrown out of he country is also a real possibility, at any time. That is why they usually speak very softly in public.

Let's hope the past few months of big timber busts in the NE will start to change the culture of impunity. That is root cause of all these murders.
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Re: Three men shot dead on the Vietnamese border

Post by SternAAlbifrons »

New guidance for ranger weapon use

Following instructions from the ministries of Interior and National Defence, the Ministry of Environment has issued a strict set of guidelines on the storage and use of weapons by forest rangers and environment officials in natural protected areas.

- prohibits anyone from firing weapons, even when on an authorised mission, except in special cases to defend themselves from immediate danger.
- warehouses must be used, with lockable storage units to safely house weapons.
- bullets are to be removed from guns and the guns locked away safely. Inventory lists are to be recorded properly and clearly,” the guideline said.
- to make a report, including the names of one or two witnesses, to competent local officials within 24 hours of discovering the loss of any weapon, ammunition or identification card.
- Rangers who are entitled to use weapons are prohibited from selling, transferring or lending weapons or ammunition to any individual under any circumstances.
- The head of each nature protected area office is responsible for meticulously managing the storage and use of weapons and ammunition,

NB There are good rangers and bad rangers..

Forest activist Heng Sros said he understood that forest rangers were entitled to carry weapons to protect themselves and prevent deforestation. However, he said some rangers had used their weapons to threaten environment activists and defend loggers.
"They carry weapons to frighten people, but they don’t dare to shoot timber traders and loggers. Instead, they use their guns to threaten environment activists and prevent people from protecting the forest,” he said.
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Re: Three men shot dead on the Vietnamese border

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Good job. The Phnom Penh Court delivered tough sentences yesterday.

October 10, 2019
Officer imprisoned for life over cold-blooded murder of forest ranger

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a former border chief to life in prison and one military police officer to 30 years, while another received two years, for the murders of three forest conservationists who were on patrol in a wildlife sanctuary in Mondulkiri province last year.

On January 30, 2018, forest ranger Tern Soknai, National Military Police officer Sek Vathana and Wildlife Conservation Society official Thol Kna were gunned down during a routine patrol in O’ Raing district’s Pouyam village.

The court tried four accused over the killings last month, including former chief of O’Rolear border post Phal Penh and former military officers Kert Veha, Kert Veta and Chheang Vannith.

During the trial, Mr Penh confessed to the murders while claiming he shot down the victims because they reneged on a deal to accept bribes to free illegal loggers.

Presiding Judge Sor Sota yesterday sentenced Mr Penh to life in prison, while Mr Veha received 30 years and Mr Vannith two years.

The fourth accused, Mr Veta, was found not guilty and will be freed from jail today.

“Based on the evidence and their confessions during the trial, the judges’ council finds them guilty,” Judge Sota said. “Therefore, the court has decided to convict and sentence the accused Phal Penh, the mastermind behind the murders, to a life sentence.”
Image
Former O’Rolear border post chief Phal Penh confessed to the murders.
National Police

“The court also orders Phal Penh and Kert Veha to pay 40 million riels [about $10,000] to each of the victims’ families,” he added. “It also finds the accused Kert Veta not guilty in the case and orders his immediate release from prison.”
https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50649710/o ... st-ranger/
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