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Three Charged in Murder of Cambodian Journalist

People march to the killing site of Cambodian anti-logging activist Chut Wutty in Koh Kong province, May 11, 2012.

Three Cambodian men have been indicted for the weekend murder of a journalist who was investigating illegal logging activity.

La Narong, Kem Pheakdey and Pin Heng are accused of killing Taing Try, who was shot in the head Sunday in eastern Kratie province.

Officials say the three, with ties to the police and military, are also accused of possession of illegal weapons.

Illegal logging

Colleagues say Taing Try was investigating illegal logging in Kratie at the time of his death and at least one of the suspects is a timber trader.

Deputy Prosecutor Thuch Panchak Santepheap tells VOA's Khmer service that the case is still being built even though they have enough evidence to make arrests.

“We will see how consistent the case is and what witnesses have brought forward," he said. "We lay charges based on the evidence we have.”

Sok Sovan, president of the Khmer Journalists for Democracy Association, says Taing Try had received death threats prior to the shooting.

“I've urged the court to punish the perpetrators according to the law. There should not be any pardon for perpetrators and accomplices so that others won't follow this example.”

Journalists targeted

Threats, abuse and murder of journalists and activists, particularly those looking at illegal logging, are not uncommon in Cambodia, but arrests and prosecutions have been rare.

At least 14 journalists have been killed since 1990. Prior to this, the most recent one occurred in 2012 when Chhey Udom, who was also investigating illegal logging, was killed.

In that same year, environmental activist Chut Wutty was shot dead in an altercation with security forces while escorting two journalists through an area known for illegal logging.

Taing Try contributed work to a number of newspapers and is a member of the Khmer Journalists for Democracy Association.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.