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District forestry boss charged over ‘logging’

District forestry boss charged over ‘logging’

The director of the Lumphat district forestry department in Ratanakkiri province was charged and put in pre-trial detention on Monday for allegedly logging on protected land around Ou’Sinlair waterfall, police and court officials revealed yesterday.

Deputy Police Chief Klol Thoeun said that Meung Bunthin was picked up by police on Monday after district forestry officials accused him of illegally clearing about 20 hectares of land around Ou’Sinlair, a popular eco-tourism destination in the province.

“There is only enough [evidence] to arrest Meung Bunthin this time but the court should also arrest the other people involved in these crimes and punish them under the law to protect our natural resources,” Thoeun said, adding that several forestry officials had been implicated.

Provincial prosecutor Leav Sreng confirmed that Bunthin had been charged with illegally logging the popular destination site.

Under Article 100 of the Kingdom’s Forestry Law, any activities carried out by local authorities that directly or indirectly contribute to forest exploitation are subject to one to five years in prison and a fine of up to 100 million riel ($25,000).

Thim Synath, Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction provincial director, said yesterday that his department had no involvement or any connection to Bunthin’s case.

“I did not order anyone to clear the land at this eco-tourism site which belongs to the state. Koung Srun, Lumphat’s district governor previously ordered me to measure and reserve land for the district’s community,” Synath said, clarifying that this was his only involvement

Koung Srun could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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