A media group that last month had one of its reporters accused of extortion in Ratanakkiri province yesterday called on the government to remove six leaders from their positions in the province.
Yorn Tith, a reporter with Khmer Youth Media, was arrested last month along with three other journalists from different organisations and charged with extortion for allegedly collecting money from illegal loggers to not report on their activity.
The group claims they were set up to silence their illegal logging investigations.
Yesterday, Khmer Youth Media sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet requesting that the prime minister remove six Ratanakkiri officials from their positions for abusing their positions of power for personal gain.
Those named include Ratanakkiri provincial governor Thorng Savun; provincial court director Suos La; provincial court prosecutor Chea Pech; Kim Reaksmey, commander of the Ratanakkiri Provincial Military Police; provincial prison director Tin Sovanny; and Vann Sorphea, director of the Ratanakkiri provincial public service department.
Chhin Dun, general director of Khmer Youth Media, could not be reached for comment, but his administrative chief confirmed the letter had been sent.
“We sent the letter to the cabinet of Samdech Hun Sen this morning,” the administrative chief said. “Cabinet officials told us they will send this letter to Samdech Hun Sen for consideration.”
Nov Ra, an official in the prime minister’s cabinet, said he was unaware of the letter, while Kong Chamroeun, another official, said also he was not aware of the letter.
Mr Chamroeun added that Khmer Youth Media should file their complaint to the provincial authorities first.
Ratanakkiri provincial governor Thorng Savun declined to comment.
Suos La, director of the Ratanakkiri provincial court, accused Khmer Youth Media of having a vendetta against all Ratanakkiri officials, whether they were involved in the extortion case or not.
“They filed this letter because we took action against one of their reporters,” he said. “I don’t understand it; what do they think this will accomplish?”
“If the reporter is innocent, why was he caught taking money?” he added, noting he was not personally involved in the extortion case.