Mr. Phal was nabbed early on Feb.2 at Tbong Khmum’s Memot district, thwarting his attempt to flee to his homeland in Prey Veng. He was accused of pulling the trigger that killed the three conservationists in Mondulkiri [we reported] by Kert Veha.
Mr Veha was arrested on Feb.1 and confessed his involvement in the incident, but accuses Police Officer Penh Phal, who was in charge of the O’Rolear border post, of doing the shooting. Mr Veha admits accompanying Mr Phal but denies taking part in the actual shooting.
One further suspect is still at large.
Lieutenant General Sok Khemarin, chief of the major crimes unit, said that Mr Phal is being sent to the Interior Ministry for interrogation. Media reports that the motive for the shooting was revenge were not confirmed by Lt. Gen. Khemarin, ““We will questioned him about it, but cannot state a motive because he has not given us one yet.”
The Wildlife Conservation Society calls the victims “heroes of conservation.” The WCS’ director, Ken Sereyrotha, describing the workings of the slain, who were active in trying to conserve the forests and endangered wildlife of Cambodia. He expressed his shock and grief over the loss three of them who worked day in and day to protect Cambodia’s flora and fauna.
“Every day, rangers and law enforcement staff risk their lives to protect wildlife and forests. We should not allow criminals to destroy the forests of Cambodia and to threaten and murder those working tirelessly to protect this country’s natural heritage.”
He asserted that the WCS will continue to try to stop land encroachment, illegal logging and poaching, and to bring the murderers to justice.