Cambodia arrests two senior police officers for encroaching on flooded forest land in Tonle Sap, kingdom's largest freshwater lake

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 17 (Xinhua): Cambodia's Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has arrested two senior police officers for allegedly encroaching on protected flooded forest land in Tonle Sap, the kingdom's largest freshwater lake.

In its statement released Thursday midnight, the ACU said the two detainees are Kampong Chhnang provincial deputy police chief Brigadier General Sum Socheat and Colonel Keo Narun, head of Kampong Chhnang provincial intervention police bureau.

"After listening to a response by Sum Socheat, 51, the ACU sees that the suspect was involved in occupying and selling flooded forest land in Zone 3 in Kampong Leng district of Kampong Chhnang province," the statement said.

Keo Narun, 59, was implicated in possessing protected flooded forest in Zone 3, it said, adding that both were summoned to the ACU headquarters in capital Phnom Penh for questioning and were arrested Thursday night.

The ACU did not say how many hectares of flooded forest land that both men had occupied.

Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen last month ordered relevant authorities to launch a large-scale crackdown on illegal land grabs around the lake after a research report conducted by the Royal Academy of Cambodia found that flooded forest surrounding it had been cleared for land at a "worrying" rate.

According to a sub-decree issued in 2011, the boundary of the flooded forest circling the lake was established in six provinces, namely Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom, with a total land area of over 647,000 hectares.

The Tonle Sap is the biggest lake in Cambodia and one of the largest lakes in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to the ASEAN Secretariat. Enditem

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