Forestry officers in Stung Treng on Monday night seized a truck loaded with planks of endangered and illegal wood bound for the home of the Kampong Cham deputy governor.
Sao Sarem, Stung Treng deputy military police chief, confirmed a truck had been seized but refused to comment further.
According to a copy of a letter bearing the logo of the Interior Ministry and Kampong Cham City Hall, Deputy Governor Pen Ean asked authorities between Stung Treng to Kampong Cham for their “cooperation and understanding” to allow the driver to bring the wood to Kampong Cham.
“This wood belongs to me and is for making windows and a building at my farm. Please understand and allow him to bring it,” reads the letter signed by Ean and dated December.
The letter claims the timber is from resin trees and thnuong – both of which are endangered and illegal to cut. In photos, however, the planks appear to be made of highly prized luxury rosewood.
Repeated calls to Ean, Provincial Governor Loy Sophat and Forestry Administration officials went unanswered yesterday, while Eak Savatey, director of administration at Stung Treng provincial forestry department, refused to comment.
Chhim Savuth, program officer at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said illegal logging has grown rampant at the behest of the powerful.
“Generally, I think they have no willingness to seize illegal wood. What they did in this case is maybe because of [a personal] interest issue.”
To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at firstname.lastname@example.org