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Officials stop and inspect a police vehicle carrying illegal timber on Tuesday in Battambang province. Photo supplied
Officials stop and inspect a police vehicle carrying illegal timber on Tuesday in Battambang province. Photo supplied

Cops questioned over timber

Five border police officials in Battambang province were questioned on Tuesday for allegedly illegally transporting timber in a police vehicle.

Samlot Forestry Administration officials and Ratanak Mondol District Military Police intercepted the truck – carrying seven thick planks of regular-grade timber in the truck bed – along National Road 57 on its way from Samlot to Battambang town.

The head of Border Brigade 823, Yim Vicheth, could not be reached yesterday but posted a statement on Facebook denying local media reports that he was the owner of the timber. He and members of his unit faced questioning after the incident.

He claimed that the timber belonged to the head of the police committee at Border Gate 400, Luong Khorn, who allegedly asked police on their way back to Battambang to help him transport it.

According to Vicheth, the wood was taken from a demolished bridge – despite photos showing that the timber in question appeared to be freshly cut.

“The timber is decayed. It is not so useful and if it was given to me, I would not accept it. If the hauling served my personal interests, I agree to face the law,” Vicheth wrote.

Provincial Forestry Administration Director Pit Peareak said experts had impounded the car and timber for investigation and declined to comment further.

In a separate incident, six men were questioned for illegally transporting 38 logs of luxury timber in Stung Treng province on Tuesday, but were released after thumb-printing a contract promising not to repeat the crime or else face punishment.

However, Article 96 of the Forestry Law stipulates that anybody who transports forest products without a permit is subject to a fine of two to three times the market value of the product.

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