Cambodian journalist killed with axe, left in car over "forest crime" stories

Featured - September 13th, 2012
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A Cambodian journalist has been found dead in his car on a cashew nut plantation. He had been missing since Sunday evening, AFP reports.

Hang Serei Oudom was discovered in the trunk of his car with several blows to the head. Senior police officer Song Bunthanorm told AFP, “It is not a robbery case. It is a murder,” adding that it appeared Oudom had been murdered with an axe.

The 44-year old reporter at the local Vorakchun Khmer Daily exposed rampant illegal logging in the country and wrote critically of businesspeople and powerful officials in the provinces. Oudom wrote stories about deforestation and “illegal logging of luxury wood”. His latest story, on September 6, accused the son of a military police commander of extortion and of smuggling timber in military-plated vehicles. Fellow journalists feared for Oudom’s safety and warned him to avoid writing critical stories of the “forest crimes”.

Illegal logging is prevalent in Ratanakiri and linked to powerful and rich individuals in the region. According to the AFP, the Cambodian government gave land concessions to firms to build plantations and hydropower dams in order to develop the impoverished nation, at cost to the environment. The depletion of Cambodia’s forest cover is brought about by rampant illegal logging, the United Nations said.