The Preah Vihear Provincial Court yesterday charged the two owners of the Hong Sopheap Development Company as well as one employee and a soldier for allegedly cutting trees in protected forests, a court official said.
Owners Say Sopheap and Bun Hong, both 51, as well as site manager Say Sina, 45, and soldier Khai Hy, 45, were arrested by military police on Wednesday over allegations they had overstepped the bounds of the company’s timber clearance licence.
Court spokesman Phy Sithorn said a prosecutor charged the four with collecting wood without permission and as accomplices under Article 98 of the Forestry Law and Article 29 of the Penal Code, respectively.
National military police spokesman Eng Hy said there were 90 pieces of timber seized in a Sunday raid on Hong Sopheap – in which 200 troops and three helicopters were deployed – and that it was being held as evidence. “We will continue to keep all the evidence and wood in the same location with the military police stationed there . . . until the court makes a decision,” Hy said.
Goldman Prize-winning environmental activist Ouch Leng welcomed the anti-logging taskforce’s actions but called on the government to shut down Cambodia’s sawmills “in order to retain the small remainder of our forests before those forests are cut down and destroyed”.