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Murder Case Surrounding Death of Environmentalist Ready for Court

Chut Wutty was a prominent environmental activist whose work to stop illegal logging and deforestation earned him powerful enemies in the lucrative, illicit industry.

Chut Wutty was shot in the western province of Koh Kong, near an environmentally sensitive forest area he had spent much of his career trying to protect.

PHNOM PENH - Koh Kong provincial court will open a hearing early next month into the shooting death of environmentalist Chut Wutty and a military policeman in April.

One suspect, Rann Borath, the chief security guard for a logging company, has been charged with the accidental murder of Chut Wutty’s alleged killer, in a improbable scenario.

The court, which will open the hearing Oct. 4, says Rann Borath accidentally shot to death a military policeman, In Rattana, who was responsible for shooting Chut Wutty at a checkpoint in a remote forest of the province.

Chut Wutty had been escorting two journalists to look into illegal logging and the harvest of plants for illicit drug production when they were stopped by In Rattana and others, according to witness accounts.

When Chut Wutty refused to give up his camera, an argument with local military police and security guards for Timber Green, a logging company, ensued.

In circumstances that have never come fully to light, Chut Wutty and In Rattana were shot dead, both at close range.

Observers say it is unlikely that Rann Borath, the chief of security for Timber Green, somehow accidentally shot In Rattana twice in the torso.