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Family of Slain Forest Activist Readies to Mark Seventh Anniversary of Killing


FILE: Chut Wutty is pictured during a mission before his murder. (Courtesy photo of Chut Family)

Wutty was in Koh Kong province with two journalists from the Cambodia Daily investigating alleged illegal logging by the company as it cleared land ahead of the construction of a hydropower dam.

Seven years after Chut Wutty was killed in an altercation with security forces, the family of the forest activist has once again called for justice to be served to the perpetrators.

A court case in 2012 found Wutty was killed by military police officer In Ratana, who was himself fatally shot at the scene in an apparent accident as a security guard for the Timbergreen company, Rann Borath, attempted to take the gun from Ratana.

Wutty was in Koh Kong province with two journalists from the Cambodia Daily investigating alleged illegal logging by the company as it cleared land ahead of the construction of a hydropower dam.

According to court documents from the inquiry, Wutty argued with Borath after the security officials ordered Wutty and the reporters to hand over memory cards containing photographs of logging at the Timbergreen concession.

Ratana shot Wutty with an AK-47 before being shot himself, according to the court records. Borath received a suspended sentence of 18 months and was released shortly after the verdict.

Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey, Wutty’s son, said he held out no hope that the authorities would find the “real murderer”, saying he had “given up hope”.

The family is preparing to hold a commemoration ceremony on Friday in Kandal province to mark the seventh anniversary of the killing.

Heoun Sophea, an activist with the Prey Lang Community Network who worked with Wutty, said his death had spread fear throughout the activist community and led to faster rates of forest degradation.

“Since Wutty got killed, we saw that forest land is decreasing because activists, authorities, and institutions are scared to be shot like him. I think it is a big loss. He was a great person for Cambodia.”

Neth Pheaktra, environment spokesman, and government spokesman Phay Siphan could not be reached for comment.

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