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Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary ranger calls for justice

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Cheng Chanty recovers in hospital as ministry officials visit him. MOE

A Srepok park ranger who was shot and injured by poachers during a patrol last month in Mondulkiri province is calling on authorities to solve the case and provide him justice.

As of yesterday, Cheng Chanty was still receiving treatment in a Phnom Penh hospital, from where he said authorities must conduct a thorough investigation and arrest his attackers.

“I’m appealing to police to have the perpetrators arrested and penalised,” he said. “I want justice to be provided to me as a victim because I was wounded fulfilling my duty in the protection of natural resources.”

Neth Pheaktra, spokesman for the Environment Ministry, yesterday said police may have identified who the suspects are, but noted that details could not be shared.

“I received positive information regarding the progress of this investigation,” Mr Pheaktra said. “We have clues as to who the suspects may be, but I can’t provide details right now because the case is ongoing.”He noted that a ministry working group visited Mr Chanty in hospital on Wednesday.

“Mr Chanty is recovering and is doing better now,” Mr Pheaktra said. “We don’t know when he’ll be able to leave the hospital because doctors are monitoring his condition.”

“The ministry will bear all hospital fees,” he added.

Keo Sopheak, director of the provincial environment department, said his working group collected evidence from the scene of the crime and submitted them to police.

“We found four bullet casings and a machete,” Mr Sophea said. “We handed them over to police.”

Provincial police chief Major General Lor Sokha said officers are working on the case and are looking to gather more evidence.

“We are working on the case and I am now at the wildlife sanctuary looking for more evidence,” Maj Gen Sokha said.

The shooting occurred during an early dawn patrol last month after Mr Chanty and five other rangers came across a group of six poachers.

A firefight broke out between the two sides and Mr Chanty was shot in the left thigh. The rangers then retreated and rushed the victim to hospital.

“We were patrolling the Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary when we saw three hammocks there. We set up tents to monitor activities,” Mr Chanty said at the time. “We then saw two people on a motorbike, one of them was carrying wildlife.”

“We were hiding near a stream and when the suspects were crossing it, we called on them to stop, but they ran away from our forces,” he added. “We gave chase and they opened fire at us and our forces fired back. After exchanging gunfire for about ten minutes, we retreated because they learned that I was shot in my left thigh.”

Last week, the government assigned designated management zones in Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary to make the protected forest more manageable.

The decision was made public through a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, designating 372,971 hectares of the forest into four management zones.

These zones include core zones, conservation zones, sustainable-use zones and community zones.

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