PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered a probe into the death of a prominent environmentalist during a confrontation with military police, as a U.N. human rights official expressed deep concern over the incident.
Hun Sen said in a directive that the panel must make a clear report to him on the death of Chut Wutty. The environmentalist was killed Thursday as he accompanied two journalists investigating illegal logging in a protected forest.
Military police say an officer shot Chut Wutty after they got into an argument and then killed himself. Hun Sen's directive, issued Monday, follows calls by Cambodian and international human rights groups for an investigation.
Chut Wutty headed Cambodia's National Resources Protection Group. He aggressively exposed logging scandals that sometimes involved official corruption.
In Geneva, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday that his office was "very concerned that the killing of Mr. Wutty marks the latest and most lethal in a series of gun attacks on human rights defenders in Cambodia."
He said that since the start of 2012, the U.N. human rights office in Cambodia has investigated four other cases "involving the use of live ammunition against communities and human rights defenders which have resulted in a number of injuries."
The office urged the government "to ensure the safety of all witnesses and investigators as well the families of the deceased men." It said it also was investigating the deaths.
(This version CORRECTS day of shooting to Thursday instead of Friday in paragraph 2)