A police officer who allegedly threatened ministry of environment officials with a gun after they stopped a car loaded with illegally felled luxury timber and began confiscating the wood has been placed in custody, officials said yesterday.
Will Baxter/Phnom Penh Post
Sreang Heng’s outburst came after officials pulled over a Toyota Camry that was loaded with illegally logged timber.
Provincial prosecutor Ly Lon told the Post that Sreang Heng, a police officer in Preah Vihear province and the nephew-in-law of provincial police chief Mao Pov, was arrested on Sunday after allegedly threatening officials by firing bullets into the air.
The provincial prosecutor said that Sreang Heng’s outburst came after officials pulled over a Toyota Camry that was loaded with illegally logged timber.
The Camry’s three male occupants escaped and, although Sreng Heng was in another vehicle, police suspected he was part of the group.
“Sreng Heng intervened while the environmental officials were cracking down on a car that was filled with 12 logs of luxury timber on Sunday evening,” the provincial prosecutor said, adding that formal charges would not be issued until the investigation was completed.
An official from Kulen Prum Tep Wildlife Sanctuary, who was present at the scene on Sunday, confirmed Ly Lon’s story.
“When we were removing the timber from the vehicle, Sreang Heng intervened. He was about 100 metres from us and fired several times into the air to threaten us,” the official, who declined to be named, told the Post yesterday.
“The provincial military police fired back, but no one was injured,” he added.
Sreang Heng could not be reached for comment yesterday.
His uncle-in-law, Preah Vihear provincial police chief Mao Pov, said that he had been in Phnom Penh at the time of the incident in question and had only heard “a little bit” about the case.
“The one who committed the action will be responsible for it,” he said.
“I am not concerned”.
In December, Prime Minister Hun Sen condemned military and police officials that were involved in illegal logging during a spirited speech at the opening of national road 62A in Preah Vihear.
In a bid to crack down on such corruption, he warned officials that the Anti-Corruption Unit would investigate them.