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Military police hand over a suspected timber transporter and a load of luxury timber to Forestry Administration officials in Kratie province. Photo supplied
Military police hand over a suspected timber transporter and a load of luxury timber to Forestry Administration officials in Kratie province. Photo supplied

Mondulkiri man charged in timber bust

A man allegedly caught driving a car filled with luxury timber was yesterday charged by the Kratie Provincial Court for its illegal collection and transport.

Two Toyota Camrys, both fully loaded with timber from Mondulkiri, were seized on Wednesday night by Kratie officials working off a tip, according to Ti Sovin Thal, provincial court prosecutor.

Thal said officials were only able to apprehend one of the drivers, blaming the other’s escape on a lack of personnel.

“We arrested one driver, while another one managed to drive away because we do not have enough of a force at night,” he said.

The driver was identified as Na Ranou, 30, from Mondulkiri’s provincial capital, Sen Monorom. The prosecutor said the driver was questioned and subsequently charged with transporting and collecting timber, violating articles 96 and 98 of the Forestry Law.

He faces a fine for the “illegal transportation” charge, and could be imprisoned for illegally collecting the timber. “The investigating judge is questioning him,” Thal said.

Illegal logging remains rife in the area. Earlier this month, nearly 100 villagers stormed the Kratie town military police headquarters, physically dragging away two of 10 vans that had been confiscated for illegally transporting timber.

None of the villagers were arrested or charged.

“I was asked to arrest the villagers who stole back the vans and partially damaged a military police car, but I did not order any arrests,” Thal said, refusing to say who gave him the original order.

“I mainly arrest authority officials and prominent traders,” Thal said.

San Bun Than, the provincial military police commander, declined to comment yesterday.

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