Battambang provincial court has charged a man who illegally cleared hundreds of hectares of protected forest land for sale as housing lots in Battambang province’s Samlot district since 2015.
Long Vuthy, 48, was arrested on September 15 by joint forces from the provincial authority and National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention.
Tieng Sambo, court spokesman, yesterday noted that Mr Vuthy was put in pretrial detention.
“He was charged with encroachment, clearing forests, setting forest fires, bulldozing forest land to claim ownership, fraud, and unlawful exploitation,” she said. “The provincial court charged him under article 62 of the law on natural protected area, and articles 377, 378, 597 and 598 of the criminal code.”
If convicted Mr Vuthy faces a jail term of between six months and eight years and a fine of up to about $66,500.
Kot Boran, provincial environment department director, yesterday said the joint forces from the provincial authority and NCFCP on September 15 arrested the accused who allegedly encroached, cleared and bulldozed forest land in Samlot district’s Meanchey commune and sub-divided the area for sale to build houses.
“He encroached and cleared forest land in the protected area in Samlot since 2015,” he said.
He noted that Mr Vuthy encroached and cleared hundreds of hectares of forest land in the protected area and had previously instigated people to protest when provincial and district authorities went to crack down on the illegal settlements.
“His activity is illegal and we cannot forgive him,” Mr Boran noted. “Now we are searching for others linked to him in this case.”