Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court on Saturday charged the publisher of a local newspaper who posed as a military brigadier general to extort money from fishermen who flouted rules.
Major Seng Vichet, a provincial police officer, identified the accused as Chhim Sophath, 52, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Smaradey 7 Makara Amatak newspaper in the province’s Prey Nop district.
He said Mr Sophath is also the president of an NGO, the Nature Resources Protection and Diversity Ecology Development Organization.
Major Vichet said that the accused was charged with using a uniform similar to that used by the military or police; using a forged public official identity card; and using a forged letter of appointment purportedly issued by the Defence Ministry.
He said the accused faces up to five years in jail if convicted and is now in prison pending his trial.
“He was arrested because he forged official documents and pretended to be an army brigadier general,” Maj Vichet said.“He wore uniforms similar to the ones used by the military or police and pretended to be a military general.”
He said that the accused was arrested on Thursday after district military police stopped him because he was wearing a military uniform while driving a car which had the newspaper’s name on its plates.
Maj Vichet said police seized the Lexus RX 400, a press card issued by the Information Ministry, six other press cards for the newspaper, a forged letter from the Defence Ministry purportedly appointing him as a brigadier general and several sets of military uniforms.
He added that a police investigation revealed that the accused had used his position as a journalist and as a fake brigadier general to extort money from fishermen in the district who used illegal nets and fished in prohibited areas in exchange for not reporting on their activities.