Business, Economics and Jobs

Couple arrested in connection with murder of Cambodian journalist

A couple has been detained in conjunction with the murder of a Cambodian journalist, reported Radio Free Asia today, as an investigation continues into the violent death of Hang Serei Oudom.

Military police officer An Bunheng was arrested in Ratanakiri province in Cambodia's northeast, along with his wife, after authorities found evidence pertaining to the case in the couple's restaurant. The evidence included knives, and a pair of Oudom's shoes, says RFA. 

The restaurant was the 44-year-old Oudom's last known whereabouts before he went missing on Sunday. His body was discovered in the trunk of a car on Tuesday, with multiple axe-wounds to the head, reports the Guardian. 

Read more from GlobalPost: Police killing of Cambodian environment activist called 'cold-blooded murder'

Oudom worked for the Khmer-language Vorakchun Khmer newspaper and reported often on illegal logging, a contentious subject in a poor nation where the practice can prove intensely profitable. 

To complicate the investigation, Oudom's last story fingered the son of Provincial Military Police Chief Kem Raksmey as behind an illegal logging extortion scandal, said RFA. An Bunheng is an employee of Raksmey's. 

 Hang Serei Oudom is not the only Cambodian to be murdered this year, seemingly in conjunction with work supporting forests. In April, forest-rights activist Chut Wutty was murdered in Koh Kong province by security guards employed by a timber company, in a disturbing incident that has reverberated throughout the world. 

Timber is a highly profitable business in Cambodia, be it legal or illegal: with one of the worst deforestation rates in the world and lots of valuable rare woods, there's big incentives for companies (and even the Ministry of the Environment) to keep dissidents quiet. 

NGO Licadho reports that private agriculture and timber companies control a whopping 10 

Here's a New York Times video account of Chut Wutty's death: