Reporters Without Borders calls for a thorough investigation into the murder of Vorakchun Khmer Daily reporter Hang Serei Oudom and urges the police to give priority to the probability that it was linked to his coverage of illegal logging and other environmental issues
At the same time, the media freedom organization offers its heartfelt condolences to Oudom’s family, friends and colleagues.
Oudom’s body was found yesterday, two days after he went missing. It was discovered in the trunk of his car in a cashew nut plantation in the north of the northeastern province of Ratanakiri. Police said he appeared to have been killed by axe blows to the head.
His last story for his newspaper, on 6 September, accused an army officer of using military vehicles for trafficking in timber. It also accused him of extorting money from people who trade legally in timber.
Oudom’s colleagues had told him they were concerned for his safety in the days preceding his disappearance. He was last seen alive as he left his home on 9 September.
Oudom wrote about rich and influential people, including businessmen and provincial officials involved in trafficking in luxury wood in Ratanakiri province. His reporting for Vorakchun Khmer Daily was often about matters linked to illegal logging.
Cambodian journalists, bloggers and cyber-activists who draw attention to environmental problems, especially deforestation, are frequently targeted by the people they try to expose.
The cyber-activist and environmentalist Chut Wutty was killed by a policeman while accompanying two Cambodia Daily journalists in a protected forest region on 26 April.
Cambodia is ranked 117th out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.