The Forestry Administration (FA) will leave it up to the military to punish 10 soldiers who, wielding firearms, laid siege to an FA compound in an attempt to re-take a truck that had been seized hauling illegal timber, according to a forestry official.
The group from Unit 243, part of Division 2’s 4th brigade, stormed the FA’s Anlong Veng district headquarters in Oddar Meanchey province on Monday, after FA officers impounded their truck, which had “frequently” been used to transport illegally felled wood timber through the area. The FA officers were forced to barricade the truck inside and call for help.
FA officials yesterday said the body would still file a case against the unit for transporting illegal wood but would rely on the soldiers’ commanders to reprimand them for their antics on Monday.
“Our relevant authorities could arrest them if they opened fire, but they did not fire and none of our officials were injured, so nothing is lost,” said Tieng David, head of the Oddar Meanchey provincial FA.
“However, for the case of their illegal transportation of about six cubic metres of timber, we are processing a complaint. It means they must pay a fine.”
Man Voutthy, deputy chief of Anlong Veng district FA, said he had filed a report to the soldiers’ brigade and division superiors about the incident and that their repeat offences warranted punishment.
Military police spokesman Eng Hy said the body would investigate if asked. However, as the men were caught “red-handed”, judicial authorities could have made the arrests themselves, he said.
Additional reporting by Mech Dara