By Clothilde Le Coz
Oct 05, 2012
"Okay shoot me!” Chut Wutty said to In Rattana, the military officer
who was threatening to kill him if he did not give away his memory
stick full of pictures. That’s all the Cambodian justice system decided
to disclose about the argument that preceded their killing last April 26 in
the Cambodian southwestern province of Koh Kong. Both were found dead
on a dirt road next to the facilities of the logging company
Timbergreen. Chut Wutty, one of the most outspoken voices against
illegal logging wanted to show two Cambodia Daily reporters that the company was also processing yellow vine. In Rattana was there to protect Timbergreen property - on this logging project, military police and security guards work hands in hand.
On October 4, the Koh Kong municipal court decided to drop the case of Wutty’s death but to investigate Rattana’s. The Phnom Penh Post reported
that the judge argued that the “perpetrator was already dead” in the
case of Wutty. According to the Court, it is clear that In Rattana shot
Chut Wutty. In a move to disarm him, Ran Boroth, a security guard for
Timbergreen, confirmed to the Court that he shot Rattana. But this is
not the opinion of a close family member of the environmental activist:
“I know In Rattana was acting normal and not fighting against Wutty. He is not the one who killed him and I don’t believe either that Ran Boroth shot In Rattana,” he told Asian Correspondent, insisting that the case should be reopened.
Deeper investigations are also requested by local NGOs in Koh Kong
province. A representative for the Koh Kong branch of the human rights
NGO Licadho said “what has been stated in Court is not the right
version and there is still no justice for Wutty”. This was echoed by
Mr. Boratino, Koh Kong representative for the Cambodian Human Rights
and Development Association (Adhoc): “We are still wondering who killed
Wutty and the information given was not clear enough to get justice for
Wutty. Moreover, the governmental investigation committee has been
changing its mind“.
According to the first statement given by the Koh Kong authorities,
bullets ricocheting off of Wutty’s vehicle killed Rattana or Wutty had
fired first. Then, the government line became that Rattana killed
himself when he realized he killed Wutty. On May 1, an investigation committee was set up by the government after a public outcry, and concluded three days later with the version we know today. Two weeks later, a hearing was organized in Koh Kong to get one Cambodia Daily reporter’s testimony.
During the one and half hours of the October 4 hearing, Ran
Boroth testified that he disarmed Rattana to “protect other people” but
he had “no desire” to shoot him for they were friends. Police
Lieutenant General Mok Chito, appointed by the government to lead the
investigation, supported his statement by insisting on the fact that
Boroth wanted to protect the two journalists. In an account given by
Olesia Plokhii, one of the Cambodia Daily reporters, she and her
colleague heard “menacing military police” say “just kill them both”.
Boroth supposedly confiscated the gun before Rattana could fire at
them. A verdict will be given on October 8. Ran Boroth is accused of
manslaughter and risks between 1 and 3 years in jail.
According to NGO monitors present among the small dozens of people
attending the hearing, only 2 witnesses showed up in court out of the
seven witnesses needed to shed more light on the facts. None of the
medical examiners or the “masked soldier” who could be a key witness were called in by the Court .
“Nobody left the site when the shooting happened. It should be an
easy case to investigate. I just wait and see. I know that justice will
come for Wutty in the future,” concluded Wutty’s family member.