Kep provincial police said they have identified a group who used the replacement Khmer New Year holiday to encroach on 4ha of flooded mangrove forests.
Police took down tow sheds measuring 18sqm and removed 100 stone poles used to mark land boundaries in an area inhabited by a community of fishermen in Angkorl village, in Damnak Changaur district’s Angkorl commune.
Provincial administration spokesman Ros Udong told The Post on Monday that having received information on the case, Kep provincial governor Som Piseth instructed officials to inspect the location.
“After [the governor] arrived there for an inspection he ordered an investigation to identify the suspects to be brought to justice,” he said.
Udong said the perpetrators encroached on the State mangrove forest at night during the holiday. He called on citizens not to be cheated by a broker. Encroaching on State land is an illegal act that leads to a penalty, he said.
Thoeng Borin, the head of the provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said on Monday the police had already identified suspects and are preparing a court complaint.
“We identified one already and reported the information to the provincial court prosecutor. We are compiling documents and exhibits,” he said.
Borin said the case is flagrant because they encroached on State land for personal ownership. The land is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, with the provincial agriculture department protecting it.
Provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc Yun Phally said the province has not seen many opportunists committing offences like clearing and encroaching on State land for private ownership.
But recently, encroachments increased near the Angkorl village because the government plans to develop the area into a tourist destination, he said.