Cambodian journalist Taing Try was shot dead yesterday while investigating illegal logging in the southern province of Kratie with five other journalists. Three suspects have been arrested.
A reporter for several local newspapers, Taing Try was shot while in his car. The car of the suspected killer was found 200 metres down the road where he had to abandon it. Reporters Without Borders is appalled by this cold-blooded murder of a journalist who was investigating a sensitive story. Environmentalist reporter Hang Serei Oudom already lost his life in late 2012 because of his coverage of deforestation and illegal logging in protected areas. “The fact that some of the people running this lucrative trafficking in timber hold senior positions must not afford them any kind of immunity,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “If the three detained suspects really were involved in this shocking murder, we hope they will be tried like anyone else.” The three detained suspects – Mondolkiri police chief Ben Hieng, military police officer Khim Pheakdey and Cambodia Royal Air Force member La Narong – have reportedly admitted having a hand in the murder. All three are also suspected traffickers. At a press conference, the police said Taing Try – a member of the Khmer Journalists for Democracy Association – had threatened to report the three suspects to the authorities. Freedom of information is increasingly restricted in Cambodia and journalists who cover illegal logging are often the targets of threats. Cambodia is ranked 144th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.