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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Environmental journalist killed in Cambodia

IPI condemns the killing, calls for immediate investigation 

By: Fatma Elshhati, IPI Staff

People march to the killing site of Cambodian anti-logging activist Chut Wutty in Koh Kong province May 11, 2012. About three hundred people traveled to the Cardamom Mountains in Koh Kong province, in Southwestern Cambodia, to investigate alleged illegal logging and commemorate the death of slain prominent environment activist Chut Wutty. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

VIENNA, Sep 12, 2012- The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned the killing of Hang Serei Oudom, a reporter with the Cambodian local language newspaper Vorakchun Khmer Daily

According to reports, Oudom, who had been missing since Sunday evening, was found dead yesterday in an abandoned vehicle in a cashew nut plantation in the northern Ratanakiri province, with several axe blows to the head. 

Vorakchun Khmer Daily’s editor-in-chief Rin Ratanak told AFP that Oudum had written several stories about “forest crimes involving business people and powerful officials in the province".

Pen Bonnar, from the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, told news agencies that "Before he was murdered, other journalists had warned [Oudum] not to write critically about forest crimes."

In his most recent article, published online on Sep. 6, Oudum had implicated the son of a military commander in the alleged smuggling of logs in military vehicles and extortion of other illegal loggers in the country. 

"IPI expresses its sincere condolences to the family of Mr Oudum," said IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills. "He was clearly a very courageous journalist. We urge the authorities to launch a full-fledged investigation into the killing and bring those responsible to justice."

Earlier this year, the director of the Phnom Penh- based environmental watchdog, National Resource Protection Group, Chut Witty, was murdered. Witty had accompanied journalists from the Cambodia Daily newspaper to witness large scale deforestation and illegal rosewood smuggling in Koh Kong, according to reports. Witty was reportedly killed by a member of the Cambodian military after refusing to hand over a memory card with photographs taken with the two journalists. Cambodian authorities said that the military policeman acted alone.

 
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