Like a scene out of a movie, an illegal logger busted with 10 tonnes of rosewood reportedly jumped from his truck in Battambang province yesterday, leaving his police escorts stranded on top of the vehicle as it veered off the road and crashed.
Bou Sina, chief executive of the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, an organisation founded by American film stars Angelina Jolie and her husband, Brad Pitt, said the organisation had alerted police to the truck’s load after a tip-off.
Maddox Jolie-Pitt officers, who work with provincial authorities on environmental issues, travelled with police, who stopped the truck in Samlot district on a suspected late night run to Vietnam and found rosewood estimated to be worth $100,000.
“After checking, we ordered the driver to take it to our station so he could be questioned more about this case, but he escaped,” Sina said.
It was then that the driver reportedly engineered his daring escape, jumping from the moving vehicle as officials were left helpless to stop the truck crashing. None of the officials on the truck were injured.
“Now the truck and the wood have been impounded in preparation for a lawsuit to be filed to the court. Authorities will continue hunting for the suspects involved in this case,” Sina said.
Separately, the chief of the Ministry of Cult and Religious Affairs provincial department in Stung Treng, Prum Sarim, and former commander of Sesan district military police in the same province, Ya Yoeun, were among three people to have a logging case against them submitted to a provincial prosecutor on Friday.
Sok Sary, a provincial forestry officer, said the two men and Sim Srey Neth, a female timber-shop owner, had been accused of transporting and stocking luxury wood.
“They stocked a lot of luxury wood without authorisation in their wood shops,” he said. “They were accused . . . of transporting and stocking luxury timber without permission, and we have already prepared their case and sent it to Phnom Penh Municipal Court.”
Earlier this month, police raided a house where they seized more than 1.3 tonnes of rosewood, and two timber shops, from which they seized a total of four cubic metres of rosewood, Sary said.
Provincial court prosecutor Chroek Khmao said he had been off work and was not aware of the case.
“I was on holidays for several days last week,” he said. “I will resume Monday.”